By Wicker Van Orsdel

The night sky of Sept. 21 was a purr-fect back drop for this year’s Blank Park Zoobilation! It was a celebration of the construction of phase one of “Gateway to Africa,” opening in spring 2013.

The Wild Life was alive and well. Most guests flaunted their wild side with casually creative zebra, python, giraffe, leopard and cheetah print in abundance. I, however, poured myself into a leopard suit (and forgot to say when), painted on my whiskered cat face and donned my orange-black mane of hair and pretty much blended into the crowd like a buffalo on a submarine. Guests received beaded necklaces at the entry and mingled throughout the zoo, enjoying a wonderful Serengeti Safari experience.

First stop was the gorgeous new Blank Park Carousel. (Not exactly Serengeti-like, but it did have wild animals on it.) It is such a fun addition to the zoo and called for a joyful twirl back into childhood. Maddie Maxwell and I had a great ride on it. From there we sauntered down to feed the giraffes—those prehensile tongues are quite grabby. (Little known fact: Giraffes are mute.) As the guests safaried along the zoo’s paths, the park was filled with happy voices singing African gospel music, native drums, the mellow sounds of Marimba played by Matthew Coley, and the stylized native singings of Mikiel “Juju” Williams, who got the lions in an uproar! I’m not sure if they loved the music or were fighting over who was king of the jungle, but their roars definitely added to the Africa ambience.  (What kind of music do monkeys like? Swing!)

We enjoyed some tasty, inspired fare courtesy of Johnny’s Steakhouse.  We got to rub shoulders with some lovely models who had been creatively airbrushed and painted as exotic natives by Meaghan Tron. The rhino ice sculpture was an impressive piece of artistry; I don’t know who carved it, but it was very icy-cool, as was the signature Blue Rhino Martini (a big hit! Don’t mind if I do!).

So you can see: It was a soiree African style, full of fun surprises under the night stars. The ubiquitous threesome, Loretta Sieman, Pat Schneider, and Marcia Wanamaker once again showed their animalistic flair for event planning. I’m sure Blank Park Zoo CEO, Mark Vukovich was thrilled with the wild success of the event! Do the Zoo! And visit all our fun, furry, feathered exotic friends.

Check out my photos at the link below:



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