Recap: Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Zoofari 2015
Zoofari is one of the best events in the DC area. I love seeing how the community rallies around the Zoo and selflessly donates so much time and effort to the zoo. Restaurants, vinters, live music, dueling pianos (on wheels!), bus transportation companies, high profile donors, zoo volunteers and the DC community showcased an unforgettable night.
Zoofari features over 100 of the best restaurants in the DC area, the top vinters, three mega bars, two mixologist competitions using an ingredient a zoo animal eats, live music, walking tree people and an incredible time.
Everything Thursday night was perfect. The event is held mainly outside at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The weather Thursday night was gorgeous, everyone at the event is super cherry and friendly, the food and drinks are so yummy, and seeing the lions, tigers and elephants was magical.
The Executive Director shared that everyone involved is so generous in their support. When he thanks the supporters like the restaurants, for coming they in turn thank him instead for letting them be involved. He can’t get over how wonderful everyone is in participating in this event. He also praised his amazing volunteers and what a great job they do. He said that running a zoo is super expensive, that you can’t imagine how much elephants eat per day and why Zoofari is so vital in supporting the Zoo. “While the federal appropriation funds approximately 70 percent of the Zoo’s operating budget, it only funds 50 percent of its capital budget and less than half of its research budget. Only through generous contributions can the zoo build new animal habitats, develop educational programs, conduct and share vital research, and train the next generation of global conservation leaders, ” according to their fundraising website. They are at $47.28 million or 59.1% of their goal of $80 million goal.
The event started at 530 pm for Media/VIP ticket holders by the Elephant Sanctuary. Outside the Elephant Sanctuary was a bar, and three top restaurants. Inside the Elephant Sanctuary was another bar and a tent with food from Equinox.
At 6:30pm other parts of the Zoo opened up.
I arrived at 5:30pm to attend the first Media/VIP event at the Elephant Sanctuary. I grabbed some white wine and sampled the fare from Passion Food Hospitality/ Passion Fish, Equinox, Tico, and Ris. Ris had delicious jumbo lump crab cakes. Equinox had watermelon cerviche. Passion Fish had assorted sushi. I also checked out the gorgeous pachyderms.
I then headed down the hill to the main event that opened at 630pm. I was able to sneak in a little early before the crowds to capture photos of the restaurant and wine booths. Within an hour I was completely full of delicious food. I need to learn to pace myself. I was excited to meet Chef Geoff who was manning the tent with his staff and told me they are opening up a new Chef Geoff’s at Dulles Airport, which he said is very busy. To take a break from over indulging I visited the auction area. They had so many cool things to auction off including behind the scenes Zoo experiences, animal art, dining at top restaurants, and tons of cuddly plush zoo toys.
Next I watched Fresh 94.7 Tommy McFly MC the battle of the bartenders. The four bartenders were, Giancarlo Cruz from Ocopa, Trevor Frye from Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Max Pike-Ludwig from Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, and Christine Kim from Tico. The mixologists had to use mint in their drinks as that’s what a lot of animals have in their diets. The bar tender from Jack Rose Dining Saloon won the competition with his pineapple infused drink, however it was a close call! All judges said they liked all four drinks.
I walked around some more, but I was full still. I played pinpall on GEICO’s computer screen then rolled dice and won a GEICO bag. Next, was the LivingSocial Lion Lounge Media/VIP area of the lion/ tiger area as night fell. A cool band called Sly 45 from Baltimore played. The leadsinger sang, “Do You Love Me?” I mouthed back, “Yes!” and the singer smiled, but still repeated the question! The lions were stunning. I got some candy, champagne and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream as I looked at the beautiful lions and tigers. To top off the night, I rode the beautiful carousel and hit the Premier Pavilion lounge where I caught the last glimpse of “tree people” dressed as trees walking on stilts and two live standing mannequins covered in white paint as Greek Roman Statues complete with grapes. I grabbed some cookies from Firehook Bakery and headed home with a HUGE smile on my face. Class A event!
The Zoo’s online bidding goes on until May 17, 2015, please bid here.