Meet Our Legacy Donors

Helen Freeman

Helen Freeman, wife and stay-at-home mother of two, began volunteering as a docent at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo in the early 1970’s. From the moment she saw the first snow leopard cubs arrive at the zoo she was captivated, family and friends recall. Helen often said, “The more I learned, the more I saw them, the more interesting they were to me.” She even returned to University to get a second degree in animal behavior and realized she wanted to make an impact on snow leopards in the wild. In 1981, she started the Snow Leopard Trust where conservation and research became the primary focus. 

The Trust became her life’s work and an important legacy in its own right. Yet she wanted to do even more and put the Snow Leopard Trust into her will. Harry and Doug Freeman, Helen’s sons, let us know why she decided to leave a gift to the Snow Leopard Trust in her will; “The Trust became part of mom’s family – the people, the local communities, and of course the wild snow leopards. It is a legacy that lives on with each generation of wild snow leopards. She not only made a huge impact while she was here with us, but she put the Trust in her will so that her legacy and support would live on. And for us,we feel proud that over the course of the four decades that followed, the Trust has grown to become an international leader and model of community-based conservation coupled with innovative and rigorous multi-country field science carried out by local researchers.”

Read more about Helen’s story here.


Elizabeth Brill

Elizabeth Brill is a Blaschka Glass Marine Invertebrate Preservation Specialist and Marine Research Assistant living in New York State. She cares for her mother, loves to travel and adores animals – especially snow leopards, bats and jerboas. Elizabeth has been a supporter of Snow Leopard Trust since the early 80’s and has written the Trust into her will. 

When she saw her first snow leopard in captivity that was it! She fell in love. “I think the fact that I had traveled to Asia with my Dad when I was young made a deep impression on me. My connection to the snow leopard brings me back to that special place and time.” said Elizabeth.

“Having had the chance to travel to Mongolia with Snow Leopard Trust, I observed how the team works so well with the country program staff and the local community members and how respectful and humble and collaborative you all are.”

When asked why she decided to include Snow Leopard Trust in her will, Elizabeth said, “I don’t have close family members to give my money to and I don’t think people do enough for animals. I don’t have a lot of money compared to many, but what I do have, I want to give to bats and snow leopards. They can’t help themselves. I want to do what I can for wildlife and conservation – and support an organization that is doing something beyond just protecting the animals. Snow Leopard Trust is doing work in a way I feel is important.”

Elizabeth said, “I will rest easier knowing the Trust will manage my gift well – you are small enough to be able to get everyone on the same page and big enough to make it happen. Your approach is pure with integrity and selflessness, which is critical when you are trying to save a species.”

Read more about Elizabeth’s adventures here.


Ralph Protano

Animal lover, retired school teacher and dedicated snow leopard advocate Ralph Protano recently joined us for a special Zoom call with Team Snow Leopard monthly donors. He shared why he decided to leave a legacy gift to Snow Leopard Trust in his will.

“I am fascinated by snow leopards. They are my favorite large species, elegant and elusive. Graceful but tough, as they live in such harsh and remote environments.

Teaching influenced my decision to help snow leopards. My life has always revolved around service. I believe what truly makes us happy and complete individuals is helping others – through hands-on action or monthly giving, which I do. I also chose to leave Snow Leopard Trust in my will as a lasting legacy.

Supporting snow leopard conservation makes me feel like I’m a part of a caring and winning team of scientists, staff and patrons who desperately desire to save and increase the snow leopard population.

I hope my legacy gift is used to find new ways to save these precious big cats. New technologies will emerge over the decades that will help monitor populations and keep snow leopards safe. But they will be expensive. I hope my gift will help foster this endeavor.
Snow leopards are key predators – vital to the ecosystem. If snow leopards thrive, so will countless other species. Snow leopards need us and we need them.”