Young Girl’s Wish Granted at Lake Superior Zoo

Make-a-Wish Foundation surprises girl with trip to San Diego Zoo.

DULUTH, Minn.- Sometimes, a trip to the zoo is all you need to have a good day.

On Sunday, Lake Superior Zoo donated some space, and time with animals to help make it a very special day for one girl who’s battled cancer twice.

“A Lizard!”

“Oohs” and “aahhs” are a normal sound at the Zoo.

But today is no ordinary day.

5–year–old Aili Kleven wants nothing more than to go to San Diego Zoo, and for a pretty specific reason.

“I’m gonna pet baby cheetahs,” she said. They’re her favorite animal.

“Because they have pretty fur.”

So Aili found out she’s getting her wish, thanks to some folks from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“She has a special wish planned to go to San Diego and go into the Safari Park,” said Amanda Joyce, Wish-Granter with the Foundation.

Through the Make-a-Wish Minnesota website, two Wish-Granters are paired with a child, to visit them, talk with them, and see what they wish for.

“It’s been really fun to get to know the families and see that special wishes come true, whatever it will be for that child.”

It’s safe to say that Aili loves animals.

They helped her through a rough time, her mother said.

“The whole safari theme actually started in the oncology clinic because they have a play area there with safari toys,” said Kelly Klevens. “And that was like how she first fell in love with going to the oncology clinic even, and connected with her oncologists.”

Aili is currently in remission for neuroblastoma, a cancer which develops from immature nerve cells.

“It’s been a hard diagnosis to go through,” said Kelly. “She had her original diagnosis as a baby and she had a relapse last year which was just treated with surgery so that she didn’t have to go back on chemo.”

On Sunday she was full of energy seeing all the animals she could at Lake Superior Zoo.

“It’s so cute! And tiny,” she exclaimed at a baby Kangaroo.

After surprising her, the Zoo organized animal handlers to bring some friends for her to meet.

“I petted a tortoise, and a bunny, and a hedgehog, and a bearded dragon.”

On her trip to the west, Aili is going to get spend time with some animals, and more importantly, with her family.

“We’ve spent a lot of time not doing the things that are super fun as a family,” her mother said. “And to just have time to relax together is gonna be great.”

Until the real baby cheetahs in June, Aili got her own to pet and love all she wants.

“Her name is Fluffy, and she’s a girl.”

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