Yvonne Betts knows a fun party when she sees one. Back in the years when The Phoenix Zoo’s primary fundraiser was ZooFari, Betts had to be selective about the events she attended. ZooFari was always at the top of her list.
The “black-tie and animal attire” party drew big crowds for an evening of food, libations, music and frivolity while strolling the zoo. Some guests added tails to their tuxedos; some wore animal print; some dressed in full costume. The mission was to raise money to support The Phoenix Zoo, one of the nation’s largest privately funded zoos.
In 2010, organizers created a new fundraiser: Rendez-Zoo. The format included a silent auction, raffle and dinner lakeside. Rendez-Zoo also has been well received and successful, with themes that showcased new exhibits and the organization’s world-class conservation initiatives.
When Yvonne, a longtime volunteer at the zoo and a member of the board of directors, and her husband, Steve, became chairs for the 2017 fundraiser, her thoughts kept going back to the years she attended ZooFari. The idea to include the ZooFari component with the Rendez-Zoo format was born. This year’s Rendez-Zoo will represent the best of both worlds – a VIP experience that includes a sit-down dinner and a ZooFari experience that includes food samplings and beverage distributors at various locations along with entertainment, animal ambassadors, photo opportunities and a silent auction.
“It’s really a hybrid of the two formats,” Steve says. “It offers an opportunity to have this fun event at a lower price point that might attract a younger crowd, and it still has a VIP event.” Guests may choose either experience when they register for the Oct. 14 party.
A PARTY, A PURPOSE
Though the format is different from the last several years, the mission of the party remains the same, to support the zoo and its conservation efforts. Yvonne and Steve, along with this year’s honorary chairs, Marlene and Grant Woods, are committed to that mission.
“The emphasis has not changed,” Grant Woods says. “This is a very important zoo to the world for conservation. This is all about the protection of animals and education about conservation. The point is to raise money so we can do that. Parents in the Valley look for great places to take their kids, places where they can form lifelong memories. The zoo is front and center on that. It’s a great amenity for the Valley.”
“This is both a fundraiser and a friendraiser,” Steve Betts says. “The party will support the zoo and its conservation efforts, and it also creates more friends of the zoo.”
ZOOFARI BACK FROM THE BRINK
This year’s Rendez-Zoo, ZooFari Back From the Brink, will take guests back in time two ways. In addition to the resurrected ZooFari, there will be the Jurassic experience of journeying back in time with the installation of the Dinosaurs in the Desert exhibit, which opens Oct. 6. While the exhibit is not located in the area where the party will be, a couple of smaller dinosaurs will be part of the fun. Guests will leave with a swag bag that includes the program, tickets to the zoo for the next day and tickets to the dinosaur exhibit.
All guests will have the opportunity to pre-register for the extensive silent auction. Bidding begins online at 2 p.m. Tickets for the Zoopendousaurus Raffle will also be available online. VIP guests will have the additional opportunity of bidding at 5:30 p.m. on several items that will not be listed online.
Attire for the evening is listed as cocktail, but guests are welcome to dress up if they wish.
PHOTOS COURTESY PHOENIX ZOO