Northwest Trek receives major land gift

Undeveloped land valued at $93,000 has been given to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, according to an announcement made Wednesday by the park. The gift, which was made from Geraldine C. “Jerry” Caruss of Eatonville, is the largest of its kind received from an individual to the park in nearly 35 years.

“I believe in what Trek believes in,” said Caruss. “There aren’t going to be enough parks, enough places for animals. I love the idea of the park being there 100 years or more in the future.”

The gift was made in memory of Caruss’s late husband, Robert, and comes after years of volunteer work by both Caruss and her children. Caruss started volunteering at Northwest Trek in 1989. Her daughter is a park employee. According to the park, three generations of the Caruss’ family has volunteered at the park.

Caruss requested the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation sell the land on behalf of Northwest Trek. The proceeds will help the park purchase land adjacent to Trek, and fund improvements or buildings on the new land purchase.

In 1971, Dr. David and Mrs. Connie Hellyeer made the original gift of nearly 600 acres of land to establish the park.

Northwest Trek, accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, is a 715-acre zoological park dedicated to conservation, education and recreation by displaying, interpreting and researching native northwest wildlife and their natural habitats. The wildlife park is located 35 miles southeast of Tacoma off State Highway 161.