By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
VIERA -- Deep within a lush canopy of sea grapes and Australian Pines, a congregation of Brevardians will celebrate and fundraise for the area's wildlife gem.
On Saturday, April 27 at 6 p.m., the Brevard Zoo will host its annual gala, Safari Under the Stars. The zoo has proudly hosted the event since the late 1990s.
"Safari Under the Stars is Brevard Zoo's signature annual fundraiser," said Shelley Szafraniec, communications and marketing director for Brevard Zoo. "Since Brevard Zoo is an nonprofit, 501(C)(3) institution, it relies heavily on donors to supports its mission of 'Wildlife Conservation Through Education and Participation.'"
Named the eighth-best zoo in America by Trip Advisor due to its educational and conservation efforts, as well as its animal care, Brevard Zoo will use the funds raised at this year's "Safari Under the Stars" to further develop the zoo's offerings.
"The event is a sponsorship event, with sponsorships beginning at $600 for two tickets to the main event," added Ms. Szafraniec.
"Safari Under the Stars" offers guests an outstanding and highly memorable experience, with hors d'oeuvres, drinks, as well as a special tour of the Art of Sand exhibit, which is on display at the zoo until May 27.
New this year to "Safari Under the Stars" is the VIP sponsorship level.
"Persons attending at this level will start their evening off in a different part of the zoo," Ms. Szafraniec said. "They will be treated to unique entertainment, a live auction with some remarkable, one-of-a-kind items, signature hors d'oeuvres prepared by Green Turtle Market and more."
Ms. Szafraniec said that there will also be a catered, sit-down meal provided by Carrabba's Italian Grill.
Following dinner, guests will venture to the Nyami Nyami River Lodge, where they will enjoy dessert, coffees, an open bar and much more.
"Lauren Rowe, a Channel 6 news anchor, will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and there will be a live auction as part of the evening's activities," Ms. Szafraniec said.
As part of the auction, guests will have the opportunity to bid on naming rights for three newcomers to Brevard Zoo.
"Our jaguar cub was born on Jan. 26," Ms. Szafraniec said. "Our male giraffe calf was born on Feb. 6 and our female giraffe calf was born on Feb. 19."
There are still tickets available for Brevard Zoo's grand prize raffle, priced at $100. The lucky winners will receive a trip for four to Chicago, with VIP experiences at the Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as the Shedd Aquarium.
"We are looking forward to an extraordinary event, with a number of new elements and surprises that will make this year's 'Safari Under the Stars' an unforgettable evening," said Karen Davis, development director at Brevard Zoo in a press release.
"This has been a fantastic year for the zoo, and we have been fortunate to have a fantastic development committee and board lead our efforts for 'Safari Under the Stars,'" Ms. Szafraniec said.
Safari Under the Stars will be held Saturday, April 27 at the Brevard Zoo. The event will begin at 6 p.m.
For more information, please call the Brevard Zoo development department at (321) 254-9453, Ext. 234.