Faces in the Crowd: Geney Ziolkowski
Geney Ziolkowski moved to Custer in 1968 from California where she was born and raised, growing up riding and jumping horses. She has dedicated her life to the welfare of animals.
CUSTER, S.D. — To say that Geney Ziolkowski has a love for animals would be an understatement. She lives and breathes for all kinds of creatures: big and small, feathers or fur, four legs or two.
Geney says, “Ever since I was a little kid, and it was a natural thing because even when I was 18 months old, I mean I was just bonkers for animals, all the time. So it was there, it wasn’t something that I was taught or rubbed off on me.”
On their property, she and her husband, Mark, house all the forgotten, the abused, the handicapped and the hard to handle.
Each animal has their own story and significance.
Geney worked as an animal control officer for Custer city and county for 24 years and started the Custer Humane Society in 1991. She is now retired, but still works housing and rescuing animals that others cannot. Her home and property is a safe haven for unwanted pets.
“My house, everything is just animals. I live it.”
She always wanted to go to Africa, but instead she and her husband brought Africa to Custer and acquired a number of exotic animals.
Geney names some of the animals she has raised, “ostrich, zebra, camels, rheas, emus, wallaroos.”
She travels to neighboring states to get animals surgery and her husband has built heated houses and stalls for the critters with plenty of room for them to roam around.
Geney lives her life with compassion and mercy for all animals and wouldn’t have it any other way, saying “I love ’em. and I feel so good when you can help something. It’s been great — adventures in my life.”
The Custer Humane Society is a nonprofit and accepts food and monetary donations. Call Geney at 605-673-5555.