The Smithsonian's National Zoo feeds 400 species regularly, but on May 17 Friends of the National Zoo will host the human species at ZooFari, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Guests are invited on a culinary safari to sample gourmet fare from more than 100 of the D.C. area's finest restaurants. The list of restaurants includes Citronelle, Marcel's, Equinox, 1789 Restaurant and Graffiato. Fifteen vintners will be on hand to cleanse diners' palates with glasses of wine between bites.
One highlight of the evening will be a zoo-themed cake decorating contest hosted by Top Chef finalists Mike Isabella and Spike Mendelsohn, and Equinox and Watershed owner, Todd Gray. Teams of pastry students from the Art Institute of Washington will compete for top honors from the judges. The winning team will be revealed on the Great Meadow at 9:15 p.m.
Strolling musicians will spice up the evening with live musical performances. And for those hungry to learn more about the National Zoo from curators and keepers, live animal demonstrations will take place between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Zoo's great cats will be out for a nightcap and on view for a limited number of guests in the VIP LivingSocial Lion Lounge. The Lounge will be a carnival of fun for guests with a sweet tooth. Sugar Magnolia, The Sugar Cube, Hello Cupcake, Firehook Bakery, and Dolci Gelati will serve delicious desserts. The lounge will be lavished with specialty cocktails, festive carnival games, a photo booth and live entertainment.
The fun won't stop at the food. Guests can also bid on exclusive items such as behind-the-scenes tours of the Zoo at the ZooFari silent auction from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For those who can't wait until the evening of the event, there is also a ZooFari online auction, which includes items such as artwork created by the Zoo's giant pandas and exclusive dining opportunities.
Tickets for ZooFari are available through the National Zoo's website or in any Zoo gift shop. Tickets are:
- $150 for FONZ members
- $200 for non-members
Groups should consider purchasing tables for 10. Tables include tickets for a group of guests, access to the LivingSocial Lion Lounge and valet parking passes. Visit the Zoo's website for more information about tables.
ZooFari benefits many Zoo initiatives, from new and improved exhibits, such as American Trail (opening Labor Day weekend), to conservation and research programs dedicated to the survival of species such as the Asian elephant, tiger, and cheetah. Sponsors for ZooFari include: Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One Bank, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast, GEICO, LivingSocial, MIX 107.3 – WRQX FM, NBC4, Rosenthal Jaguar/Land Rover, Washingtonian magazine, Widmer Brothers and 105.9 WMAL.
For updates on ZooFari and other events at the Smithsonian's National Zoo follow Friends of the National Zoo on Twitter and Facebook.Download photo set