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7Everyday Heroes: Retired aerospace engineers switch gears to volunteer at Denver Zoo

Posted at 9:04 AM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 11:04:34-04

From building rocket ships to feeding polar bears — seems like a natural transition for retirement, right?

Perhaps not for most of us, but it certainly is for 7Everyday Heroes Gail and Dennis Daniel. 

"We have been at the Denver Zoo for four years now," Dennis said. 

The couple start in August 2014, Gail added. 

It may not seem like glamorous work to clean pins and prepare raw meat and fish for the zoo's animals, especially after careers as aerospace engineers, but for Gail and Dennis, it is a dream come true. 

"From launches to animals is quite a different mindset," Gail said. 

But it makes sense for a couple who has loved the Denver Zoo for years. 

"The Denver Zoo is nice because it is something that we support through education and conservation," Dennis said. 

The pair decided to volunteer at the zoo after retiring. 

"The zoo allows us to contribute both behind the scenes and with the guests," Gail said. 

Kelly Bockert with the Denver Zoo said the Daniels are the only two volunteers out of about 600 who work in every single area available for volunteers. 

Over the past four years, instead of just visiting the zoo, the pair has volunteered, sometimes up to 10 days a month.  

"Gail and Dennis each give over 300 hours a year to the zoo," Bockert said. "So, that is more than six times what we ask of them."

The Daniels said they advise everybody to find what they love and give back. 

"It gives you a sense of fulfillment," Dennis said. 

"And you don't come to the zoo and have a bad day," Gail added. 

To learn more about volunteering at the Denver Zoo, click here

Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30 to 7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Mitch on Facebook here and Twitter here. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.