The Mighty Logo

To the Strangers Who Called Out My Daughter's Name at the Zoo

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

In the summer of 2009, my daughter, Julia, who has Asperger syndrome, was 5 years old. A neighbor and I had taken our kids to the zoo. It was pretty busy that day. At one point I realized we didn’t have Julia.

She’d gone to the bathroom with some from the group but had not come back with them. There were a lot of summer school groups there that day. We were in the Africa exhibit, an extremely large area of the zoo. Our group split up and started looking for Julia. When I asked strangers if they’d seen my little girl they said no and then joined us in looking for her. Zoo personnel were on their walkie-talkies.

It seemed like hours, but it was probably 20-30 minutes later that a zoo employee told me someone had found her. We rushed to that area. A mom had found Julia, who was obviously lost, and had taken her hand and kept Julia with her as she sought out a zoo employee to report having found a missing child.

I was and am so grateful to all the many strangers who were concerned and joined us in looking for my daughter. I’m also extremely grateful to that mom who took Julia under her wing while she searched for us. That day, in the midst of my being overwhelmed, I heard complete strangers calling my daughter’s name. There were so many helpers.


The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. No gesture is too small! If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Originally published: February 16, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home