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Zoobilation raises money to renovate The Oklahoma City Zoo's picnic area

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This is the final year of Oklahoma Zoological Society’s annual Zoobilation gala and fundraiser. Now in its 23rd year, the event features dishes from 17 metro restaurants along with specialty cocktails, a sea lion show and photo opportunities and the chance to interact with the denizens of Stingray Bay without a crowd.

“The event takes place throughout the Children’s Zoo and Canopy Restaurant,” said Brianne Hinojosa, Oklahoma Zoological Society’s marketing and special events manager.

“It’s similar to a Taste of Oklahoma City. We don’t know what the restaurants’ menus will be, but they will bring their best dishes,” Hinojosa said. “Last year, we had 550 people attend.”

Oklahoma Zoological Society, also known as ZOOfriends, is a nonprofit that promotes and supports the zoo’s four-pronged mission: education, conservation, zoological research and recreation.

New attitude

While Zoobilation has served its purpose and was innovative in its day, ZOOfriends decided to revamp its events to more directly align with the theme of conservation.

“Right now, we do four annual events that are more behind-the-scenes and conservation-focused. We have also had feedback over the years that we might want to rethink having an event in the middle of June, when it’s so hot,” Hinojosa said. “So we will be looking at having our new event earlier in the spring, when the weather is better. It’s time to let this one go.”

While there are no special closing ceremonies planned, Zoobilation will not necessarily go quietly. Urban Addiction will perform a variety of dance party hits and classics from the ’70s and ’80s. Urban Addiction guitarist Chris Hicks has toured with Reba McIntire, Restless Heart and Sara Evans.

Zoo improvements

Hinojosa said ZOOfriends hopes Zoobilation raises around $200,000, which will be used to spruce up the zoo’s existing picnic area.

Thanks to Zoobilation’s swan song, the picnic area, which has served thousands of children on field trips, will be fitted with new decks, picnic tables and gardens featuring native Oklahoma trees and flowers.

Zoobilation guests must be at least 21 years old to attend. Tickets are $100 per person and must be purchased by June 15 by visiting zoofriends.org or calling 405-425-0618.

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