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July 19, 2011 > Why Not Walk in the Wild

Why Not Walk in the Wild

By Denny Stein

Lions and tigers and jazz, oh my!

Music, food, drinks, and elephants, it was all there and more at the Oakland Zoo's Walk in the Wild on June 25th. This annual fundraiser is billed as An Epicurean Escapade and a multitude of local food purveyors, wineries, and breweries from the Bay region were giving away their specialties faster than you could say "Yes, please." An adults-only crowd of supporters enjoyed having the park to themselves to marvel at the animals, taste free wine and beer, ride the Sky Train, and listen to Executive Director, Dr. Joel J. Parrot, talk about the Zoo's future.

The Saturday night bash was a true California style gala. Barbara Llewellyn Catering provided ingenious hors d'oeuvres at the Patrons' pre-party in the Carousel Courtyard. Three Hoots Winery filled the commemorative wine glasses, and guests mingled to the sounds of African drums. This year's fundraising focus is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility, which is included in the 54-acre expansion of the Zoo's exhibition and educational offerings. Not only good news for the animals, but all these improvements will provide jobs and business income in the Bay Area.

The main event, "Dine with the Animals" led up one trail and down another, past the African Veldt, into the Valley Children's Zoo, around Tortoise Shell Terrace, and in front of the Giraffes. These long-necked beautiful beasts had their own fundraising pitch: Raise the Roof! The growing herd needs a new barn, and one that is high enough for the tallest giraffes to enter without ducking their heads. Long-lashed deep brown soulful eyes made the plea, and I doubt that anyone could resist the display of cavorting and canoodling that went on. Enjoying the sight with a glass of Crispin Cider and a handful of Montibello Sausage didn't hurt either.

Zookeepers, volunteers and administrators were on-site to answer questions about diets, breeding, enrichment activities, and the inhabitants' habits, while we scoped out the offerings from Numi Tea, Skates on the Bay, Ozumo Restaurant, and Oliveto's. More than 90 vendors participated, from large and well-known establishments, like Whole Foods, to smaller family style emporiums such as Home of Chicken and Waffles. The animal people were as happy to show off their magnificent Zoo, which has garnered both international acclaim and national awards, as the food people were to share their best bites.

As the sun lowered over the African Village, visitors headed east to Flamingo Plaza for Dancing & Dessert Under the Stars. Over 1000 happy patrons danced to music by Masterpiece and lined up for bite-sized pies, cookies, cakes, and ice cream. As many folks headed home, their tummies and spirits filled, the Oakland Zoo and the East Bay Zoological Society found its coffers also filled, to the generous tune of $188,000, a fitting culmination to the Society's Diamond Jubilee year. Expansion plans include the California Trail Project, which, along with the new veterinary hospital, will include 30 acres of open space habitat and 20 acres of exciting new exhibits featuring regionally extinct animals such as the grizzly bear. Remember, these are the plans for Your Zoo!

The Oakland Zoo is open daily. More information is available on-line at Be a part of their future - go to the zoo. And stay tuned for next year's Walk in the Wild; you'll want to be there.

Oakland Zoo
Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday, & Holidays: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland
(510) 632-9525

Next Special Event:
Feast for the Beasts
Saturday, July 23
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The first 250 guests will receive tickets to enter the elephant exhibit. Receive a free ride coupon when you donate produce.

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