by Tim L. Tetzlaff
Naples Zoo Director of Conservation
Naples is known for over-the-top fundraisers from private homes to posh hotels – and now forone of the best outdoor parties known as ZOObilee: Feast with the Beasts. Mark your calendar for Friday, February 24, 2017from 7:00 -11:00 p.m. You’ll be part of this deliciously wild way of gathering together to support the award-winning nonprofit Naples Zoo and its mission to educate families and conserve wildlife here and around the world.
ZOObilee breaks you out of the ballroom to wander through the historic botanical garden while dining on the savory and sweet cuisines from many of Naples’ best restaurants and caterers. You’ll also meet some of our wild friends, enjoy live music and festive beverages, and see if you’re the winner of the raffle for the Zoo’s next African safari! There is a little something for everyone during this delightful evening for guests ages 21 and over.
And because Naples Zoo is not supported by tax dollars, it’s your support that enables our important efforts to educate the next generation of children and insure your favorite wildlife is around for their childrento appreciate.
Naples Zoo is accredited by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA),the organization that sets and continually raises the world’s most rigorous standards for our work. We are proud to say Naples Zoo achieved its fourth accreditation in 2016. Because of this standing, Naples Zoo participates in Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Programs for numerous rare animals. These coordinated efforts seek to maintain healthy, genetically diverse,and demographically varied populations outside the wild. Often we serve the crucial role of caring for bachelor herds of animals like giraffe and the endangered slender horned gazelles.Last year, the SSP recommended a pairing of red ruffed lemurs from two other accredited zoos for a match to be made here in Naples. This spring, the result was the wonderful birth of twocritically endangered baby red ruffed lemurs. You can see them with mom and dad in theirnewly renovated habitat next to the Malagasy fosa.
In addition to welcoming nearly 400,000 guests a year to learn about animals through our exhibits, daily shows, keeper talks, and cruises, Naples Zoo launched a formal education programs for children with a modular education classroom. Excited summer campers experienced the inaugural Camp WILD and the new ZooMobile Outreach programs expanded our mission offsite to schools around the area. Our collaborative ZooCon Distance Learning Program with Collier County Public Schools continues to reach more children. This program allows 4th graders to meet the National Geographic scientist on the cover of their science text and connects 2ndgraders with a leading giraffe expert so they can ask questions live from Southwest Florida to Namibia, Africa. Every grade from kindergarten through fifth will now have this same kind of opportunity to learn from professional animal care staff and leading conservationists.
In cooperation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,Naples Zoo created a permanent home for a local panther that was blinded by a shotgun blast. These efforts were just recognized with a national award from the AZA. Equally important, we also built a temporary rehabilitation area to care for wild panthers behind this public exhibit. In just the first year, our professional animal care team including our veterinarian has already cared for two orphaned panther kittens in this new facility. That same high level of care has also helped many of our precious older animals to live well beyond the average lifespan.
GROWING THE GARDEN
Surrounding all these wondrous animals, you’ll find six of our garden areas have been renovated or upgraded in the last year including the certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Along with extensive care being given to the mature specimens in this historic botanical garden, ten new species of palm were introduced. Our nearly century old trees and new plantings will be showcased in 2017 as Naples Zoo welcomes the national conference of the Association of Zoological Horticulture.
In addition to SSP participation and other efforts to help wildlife populations outside the wild, Naples Zoo continues to be nationally recognized for its high level of commitment to saving animals in the wild as well. Last year, the Zoo contributed over half a million dollars to these efforts ranging from our local panthers to the majestic lions of the African plains. Our program sare coordinated with at least one field partner with an established and respected presence to have lasting impact to provide better futures for both people and wildlife. You can meet some of these passionate conservationists at our Speaker Series (www.napleszoo.org/speakers).
All this only happens when caring people like you are involved so please join us at ZOObilee!
Tickets begin at just $125 and range up to $500 including extra amenities like an exclusive offsite patron party the week after ZOObilee. Special pricing is available for Naples Zoo members and you can play a bigger role by becoming a sponsor. To order tickets or for information on sponsorships, please call 239.262.5409 ext. 145 and visit www.napleszoo.org/zoobilee.
We’re all looking forward to seeing you here!
Far from the simple menageries of the past, today’s nationally accredited zoos are centers of learning and natural crossroads for biologists, educators, environmental scientists, and researchers – as well asfor students, conservationists, and all animal lovers. Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is an award winning, private 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving wildlife and families here and around the world. More information at www.napleszoo.org.