Tickets are not all that cheap ($150 per person) but proceeds benefit the zoo, which also isn’t cheap to maintain. For example, the upcoming Rocky Shores—to house polar bears, sea lions, seals, etc.—will cost $14 million. The new animal-health center costs a bundle; it provides in-house treatment for zoo animals and, as needed, local injured wildlife, such as the 300-plus ducks affected by the Red Butte Creek oil spill. Development director Eve Mary Verde says, “A great service goes on here for all these wonderful animals. People may remember the zoo from 30 years ago with the animals all caged. Now, they have homes, and lots of money goes for animal enrichment, keeping them mentally stimulated.”
And, simultaneously, to keep event patrons stimulated, there’ll be food from 26 restaurants, including Bambara, Meditrina, Thaifoon, A Piece of Heaven Candy Company, Rimini Coffee, Fleming’s Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s and others. After dining, grab a cocktail from the open bar before a cart tour of the zoo. Live entertainment from bands such as Sensations for Soul, plus a magician, photo ops and a silent auction turn the zoo into a big kid’s playground for one special evening.