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Sugar House Journal

Hogle Zoo Rendezvous Brings in Over $45,000 for Animal Care and Zoo Improvements

Oct 08, 2015 13h56 ● By Bryan Scott

The Steel Belts perform live music in front of a popular Zoo exhibit.

By Jessica Bowen

“The Wildest Party in Town” lived up to its name for the 18th year in a row. On the evening of Sept. 10, roughly 1,700 people gathered at the Hogle Zoo for the 18th annual Zoo Rendezvous. This event is the Zoo’s biggest, most elaborate fundraising celebration of the entire year, and the people in attendance were treated to an exotic adventure involving live music, fine dining catered by local restaurants and special close-up encounters with some of the Zoo’s most impressive animals. 

Every year, this fundraising event brings in money that is essential for animal care, zoo maintenance and exhibit expansion or improvements. And, according to Hogle Zoo’s community relations director, Erica Hansen, “100 percent of the proceeds stay in the zoo.”

 This year, the silent auction brought in over $45,000, an impressive total that tops last year’s by $13,000. This increase, due in large part to a new mobile bidding system, holds great promise for the next year of new projects and upkeep at the Hogle Zoo. 

Several of the Zoo’s most beloved animals made special appearances for the partygoers. Rizzo the polar bear swam and dived for treats, the elephants had a special performance and renowned falconer Steve Chindgren wowed the crowd with his eagle flight show. 

Many local artists and businesses added special Sugar House flair to the evening as well. There were live music performances from The Steel Belts and The STR!KE, as well as aerial feats performed by Voodoo Productions and a dancing and drumming routine by the Africa Heartwood Project. 

The cuisine for the evening was provided by over 30 of the area’s most popular restaurants, including The Egg & I, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris and Corner Bakery. Guests also had the opportunity to stop by for psychic readings with Marja Shelley Mystics or to take a ride on the Zoo’s Conservation Carousel. 

Conservation was a key theme of this year’s Rendezvous. Hogle Zoo has long been a “green” organization, but this year they went above and beyond to try to reduce the amount of waste from the event. For the first time, they deployed a team dubbed the “Green Brigade” during the event to make sure that all of the waste from the evening was thrown away or recycled properly. The Green Brigade was made up entirely of zoo staff and volunteers, all of whom believe in the Zoo’s mission to reduce waste, recycle and protect the environment, and the inaugural team was a great success. 

While representatives from the Hogle Zoo could not provide details about specific projects or exhibits for which the Rendezvous money was earmarked, this year promises to be especially exciting. Animal lovers can always stop by to enjoy the Zoo’s daily events, including animal training and feedings, as well as special programs, such as Wolf Awareness Day, coming up on Oct. 10. 

Also, Sugar House locals who want to show their support for Hogle Zoo and its mission of conservation can keep an eye out for details about next year’s Zoo Rendezvous—it’s sure to be just as wild!