Gainesville Daily Register

September 27, 2013

Zoobilee event returns to Frank Buck Zoo

Staff Report

Gainesville — By SEAN GORMAN

Register Staff Writer

The Frank Buck Zoological Society is planning its most popular event of the season. This year’s Zoobilee fundraiser — Wild Walk About — is set for 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Frank Buck Zoo.

This is the 14th year for the Zoobilee, an event which raises money for new animals, new exhibits and additional programs at the zoo.

Some changes are in store for this year’s Zoobilee when the event returns to the site where it makes the most impact — inside the Frank Buck Zoo in Leonard Park.

Guests will get a closeup look at the animals that have been brought in by the Frank Buck Zoological Society while enjoying music played by a DJ from DoubleTake Productions and food and libations provided by 11 local restaurants.

“The biggest thing this year is that it’s taking place in the zoo again,” Zoological Society President Karen Estes said. “Other times, we’d have the event near the zoo, but could not go past the entry, so not all the animals could be seen. The point of this year is to give people an opportunity to see all the animals brought in by the zoological society.”

In years past, the event has brought in anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000.

Estes said the fundraiser will also include some important updates about the group’s future goals for the zoo. This year’s Zoobilee will also include silent and live auctions and valet parking for guests.

The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with guests being able to see the zoo’s various exhibits and runs until 10:30 p.m. Vendor stations from Chili’s, Karen’s Katering, Fuzzy’s Tacos, Edelweiss Tea Haus, Sernas, Love of Food, Luigi’s, Dieter’s, Applebee’s, Extreme Cuisine and Sarah’s On The Square will provide a variety of cuisine for guests.

“We’re starting an hour earlier this year so there’s plenty of daylight. People can see the giraffes and have direct animal encounters,” Estes said. “We’re trying to have more of a party that people can enjoy this year. There won’t be speeches or anything like that. We’re just letting people enjoy the zoo at a different time of day.”

Frank Buck Zoo Director Susan Kleven said hosting the event inside the zoo allows for the society to showcase everything that has been purchased through past Zoobilees.

“Being down at the zoo enables us to be able to showcase what the money has been raised for,” Kleven said. “The Wild Walk About is a tribute to the things that the zoological society has made possible over the last decade. People may have heard about it, but there’s a greater appreciation when they’re able to see those improvements.”

For Kleven, evening is prime animal viewing time at the Frank Buck Zoo.

“ The zoo at night is a different atmosphere, a lot of the animals that are resting during the day become more active around that time,” Kleven said. “There’s always something new to see and when people see those changes, it inspires them to come back with their kids or grandkids another time.”

 The night’s events are open seating unless guests purchase a corporate sponsor table. Sponsors will be recognized at the event and in all Zoobilee ads. Tables begin with the Tamarin table, which costs $600 and seats eight.

The Zebra Stripes sponsorships cost $1,000 and include a reserved table along with a private feeding of the giraffes for up to ten people. The Top Spot Giraffe sponsorships cost $2,000 and offers two reserved tables and a feeding of the giraffes for up to 16 people.

As the highest level of sponsorship at Zoobilee, the African Safari package costs $2,500 and includes three reserved tables and a chance for a private feeding with the giraffes for up to 24 people.

Open seating tickets to the event are $50 per person, and guests must be at least 18 years of age to attend the event.

To reserve a table or purchase tickets, contact Karen Estes at (940)-736-0226 or