- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

The National Zoo will host a truly wild party tonight with its annual ZooFari from 6:30 until 10.
This year's extravaganza, titled "Offspring Fling," celebrates the births at the zoo over the past year, including those of Berani, the Sumatran tiger, and Kandula, the Asian elephant.
Organizers estimate the party will attract as many as 3,000 people to raise money and, perhaps most importantly for some, to sample the offerings from more than 100 restaurants and wineries that set up tasting booths along the zoo's winding paths.
Among the restaurants to be at the gala are Galileo, Kinkead's, the Prime Rib and Vidalia, as well as world-class vintners like Gallo of Sonoma, Georges Duboeuf and Robert Mondavi.
Guests also can check out some of the animals' nighttime activities. There also will be animal demonstrations, and most of the animal houses will be open, including the Bat Cave, Elephant House, Great Ape House and Reptile Discovery Center.
The 19th annual ZooFari also will feature local musical acts including jazz, rhythm and blues, zydeco and big band on five stages.
Rock 'n' roller Bo Diddley, who was among the musicians featured at the 1994 ZooFari, said when he was contacted to play a gig at the National Zoo, he thought, "That sounds like a wild club."
"One of the things that makes this unique is that it's a very high-class event, but the atmosphere is very casual, some people come dressed in shorts, some come dressed in suits and formal wear, and others will show up in safari outfits," zoo spokesman Matt Olear said.
The goal of the party, which netted more than $350,000 last year for the zoo's giant panda program, is to raise cash to compensate for the free admission. "Other zoos across the country charge admission," Mr. Olear said.
ZooFari was created by Friends of the National Zoo in 1983 to help support the zoo's mission of wildlife research and conservation. Proceeds from ZooFari 2002 are earmarked for the zoo's 10-year revitalization project.
Tickets are $110 for FONZ members and $135 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 202/673-4513.


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