- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2005

The Friends of the National Zoo is reaching out to young professionals — a crowd that typically doesn’t go to the zoo until they have children — with a holiday event this week.

Jingle in the Jungle, the group’s first winter event, will be held Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. in the zoo’s Amazonia exhibit. The happy hour event will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibit, said Pam Bucklinger, manager of membership and educational program for FONZ.

“We want to reach out to different types of members; this is a group that doesn’t typically come to the zoo because they don’t have kids,” Ms. Bucklinger said.

The young professionals program began six years ago and has grown in number and attendance, Ms. Bucklinger said. The first events drew a small crowd and its last, Brew at the Zoo in August, drew 1,400 people.

Money raised at the event will go toward care and research for the zoo’s new panda cub, Tai Shan, and his parents.

The event has been sold-out last week. The high interest in the event might have been aided by Washington’s panda mania, with the black and white cub in newspapers and on TV often since its birth in July, Ms. Bucklinger said.

For all the attention Tai Shan has received, the District’s marketing group, the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corp., does not plan to use the District’s newest panda resident in advertising.

The first 13,000 tickets to see him were grabbed in an online auction in about two hours, making him so popular that some visitors might not even be able to see him.

“We don’t want people [to come] and be disappointed,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Pawlowski.

Ten area hotels, including the Fairmont Washington, are selling a limited number of panda packages, which include up to six tickets to see the panda cub with an overnight stay, according to a zoo spokesman. For each package, $10 will go to the zoo’s Great Panda Conservation Fund.

The Fairmont has sold 25 panda packages and expects to sell more once the panda goes on exhibit Thursday, said spokeswoman Diana Bulger.

New ‘flavors’

The owner of the Bombay Club on Connecticut Avenue NW is opening a new restaurant Friday with a modern Indian cuisine.

Ashok Bajaj is opening Rasika, which means “flavors” in Sanskrit, at 633 D St. in the Penn Quarter. Mr. Bajaj also owns 701, Oval Room, Ardeo and Bardeo in the District, all of which serve American cuisine.

Mr. Bajaj said the menu at Rasika moves away from traditional Indian cuisine, which is served with a lot of sauces.

“We want the food to taste like food,” he said. “If you get halibut, you want it to taste like halibut.”

Now open …

• D.C. residents are now spared from having to travel to the suburbs to throw strikes. Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley, the District’s first bowling alley, opened in Gallery Place in Chinatown last week.

• Diverse Markets Management LLC, a group of D.C. market operators, is holding an outdoor holiday market at 11th and H streets NW, on the site of the old convention center. The market, which has arts, crafts, food and Christmas trees on sale, opened Thursday and will be open through Dec. 21.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com.

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