By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, and the Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS), are partnering to create a conservation event themed Safari Soirée. The inaugural “after dark” festivities are scheduled for Saturday, June 17, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the OKC Zoo.
Safari Soirée will be a night to celebrate the Zoo’s conservation efforts to save plants and animals here in Oklahoma and around the world, now spreading across four continents.
There is a variety of tickets and sponsorship available for the Safari Soirée for guests ages 21-and-up that will include food, open bars, rare animal encounters and flashlights for nighttime exploration activities to stimulate the inner conservationist.
The evening will also feature a live band, a DJ, a scavenger safari game with prizes, and the freedom to explore and rediscover the OKC Zoo, Oklahoma’s oldest and largest cultural attraction.
“While many Oklahomans have been to the Oklahoma City Zoo during the day, very few have experienced the park and gardens at night,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, Zoo executive director/CEO. “Providing guests with this unusual experience enables us to share our amazing conservation stories in a powerful, new way.”
Guests are encouraged to explore the Zoo grounds where they will discover several illuminated conservation stations. Each station will focus on one of the four global conservation programs that protect critically endangered species represented at the Zoo. These threatened creatures include orangutans in Borneo, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers and African painted dogs.
“To express the Zoo’s mission of conserving wildlife and wild places, we needed to provide a wild experience,” said Tim Rasnic, OZS executive director. “This event will be unlike anything the Zoo has done before, which makes it more exciting and rewarding for those who participate.”
All Soiree net proceeds will benefit the overall conservation efforts of the OKC Zoo.
The Zoo began expanding its conservation efforts in 2016 and has since donated more than $280,000 to local and global projects ranging from the purchase of rainforest in Sumatra to protect endangered elephants, tigers and orangutans, to supporting local habitats for monarch butterflies.
Sponsorship levels and supporters for the Safari Soirée event include: Conservation Champions include Express Employment Professionals and The Oklahoman. Conservation Ambassadors include Dr Pepper and BancFirst. Conservation Leaders include Heather and Darren Head, Midwest Wrecking Co., Alice and Phil Pippin, Devon Energy, Marianne’s Rentals, and Southwestern Stationery and Bank Supply. Conservation Heroes include Donna and Robert McCampbell, Dolese Brothers Co., Vicki and Bob Howard, McAfee & Taft, Hudiburg Auto Group, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Bank of Oklahoma, and Independent Insurance Agents of OKC. Conservation Patrons include Foliart, Huff, Ottaway & Bottom; Lori and Dustin Fredrick; Julie Hall; Heritage Trust; Aimee and Vahid Salalati; Niki and Bill Puffinbarger; and Katie and Jon Trudgeon.
Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.
Tickets are limited and can be purchased online at zoofriends.org, by calling 405- 425-0618 or by visiting the ZOOfriends’ membership office.
General Admission tickets are $75 each and include entrance to the Zoo, food, drinks, sea lion presentation, giraffe feeding, stingrays, lorikeets, inspirational conservation stations and more!
VIP Behind-the-Scenes tickets are $50 per person, per experience. Guests will interact with keepers, and receive an up-close encounter, but not direct contact, with wildlife. Guests can choose up to three VIP experiences, including elephants, lions, bears, rhinos, painted dogs and apes.
These experiences will run every 30 minutes from 7:30 – 10 p.m. and are limited to 16 guests each. The purchase of a General Admission ticket ($8) is required to purchase a VIP ticket.
All-Inclusive tickets are $200 each and include a General Admission ticket and three VIP Behind-the-Scene tickets for one person.
The Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with exhibit buildings closing at 4:45 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, and $5 for children ages three to 11 and seniors age 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.
For more information, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.