SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A teen who is in the fight of her young life has a great love of animals. To make her dreams come true, a South Florida attraction became her “Zootopia.”
Friday was a big day at Zoo Miami for 15-year-old Leslie Jarrett, who has been fighting bone cancer.
“You’re going to see Malcolm, my absolute favorite giraffe,” said Ron Magill, a conservationist with Zoo Miami.
During her day at Zoo Miami, Jarrett got a behind-the-scenes tour and took on the role of zookeeper.
“This is really cool, and it’s just – I can clearly see myself doing this ’cause I can stay calm near wild animals,” she said.
“You see them after the challenges they faced, you see what animals can do for people,” said Magill. “Animals can make people happy.”
Jarrett and her whole family were flown in from Virginia by the nonprofit Make-A-Wish Foundation for her special moment.
“She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer, in March of 2022.” said Helen Jarrett, Leslie’s mother. “It started with just pain, and we tried physical therapy, and then finally they did an MRI, ’cause I just knew that something was more than growing pain.”
Now, more than a year later, after chemotherapy and several surgeries that included a knee replacement, Jarrett is in remission.
“It’s a large family, so taking big trips can be hard to do, a lot of moving parts, but it’s amazing to be here,” Helen said.
Jarrett said her favorite moment at zoo was getting to meet her favorite animal: a large snake.
“They just look amazing, and they’re just really pretty,” she said.
Now, Jarrett is heading back home with an even bigger love for these sweet animals.
After their big day at the zoo, Jarrett and her family expressed their gratitude toward Make-A-Wish, Zoo Miami and Magill.
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