Joe was watching television when he heard a knock at the door. He thought, “Who could that be? It’s probably one of the naughty neighborhood children.” Joe stood up and walked to the door. When he opened it, he saw a beautiful woman.

She said, “Good morning, Joe! I have great news. You’re the recipient of this check for one million dollars! You won the lottery!”

Joe couldn’t believe it. His mind was overloaded with emotions. Joe said, “Thank you! Thank you!”

After he calmed down, Joe made a photocopy of the check in case he misplaced the original one. He sat and thought about what he wanted to do with the money. He didn’t want to spend it in an arbitrary way. Joe thought, “I know there are others who need this money more than I do. I’ve always loved animals, so I think I’ll buy things for the zoo!”

Joe knew that the zoo was in bad shape. The cages were too small, and they weren’t insulated from the cold. Animals couldn’t thrive in such conditions.

He took out some stationery and wrote a letter to the zoo. He offered to help the zoo buy huge cages for the large mammals and reptiles. He offered to buy healthy food for the orangutans to increase their longevity. He even said that he would buy new glass walls for the aquarium because the old ones were cracked.

Joe’s act of philanthropy intrigued the zookeeper. He probed Joe to learn why he spent his money to improve the zoo. It wasn’t a social convention for a person to be so gracious.

Joe told the zookeeper, “I know it’s not the norm, but my ultimate decision to help these animals is better than anything I could have done for myself. If I ever write an autobiography, I will write that this was the happiest day of my life.”