Who: People passionate about animals and their habitats
What: Warm Up in the Wild, the launch party for Azul
Where: The Minnesota Zoo at the Tropics Trail
When: Saturday, February 19, 2011
Why: To get adults excited about the zoo, conservation, and sustainability
If you’re not lucky enough to escape the wrath of winter 2011—a balmy oasis in Apple Valley awaits you with more the 500 species of animals to appreciate. On Saturday, about 165 people made the trek to the Minnesota Zoo for the launch party for Azul, a group of young professionals who care about conservation.
A buffet of snacks, island music, a sandbox for adults, and a bar was set up right on the Tropics Trail, where monkeys, lemurs, tapirs, and other exotic creatures could be heard screeching in the exhibit open to partygoers for much of the evening.
It was a struggle for me to come up with an outfit, as the dress code called for “winter beach casual,” so I opted for a snakeskin-print dress and faux croc bag to at least blend in with the indoor jungle surroundings. In the first hour, many were game to try the Blue Lagoon, the evening’s signature drink of vodka, blue Curacao, and lemonade, complimentary via a drink ticket.
People ducked into the tropics exhibit to see Colobus and De Brazza’s monkeys, gibbons, West African Dwarf crocodiles, pink flamingos, Red River hogs, and more. The sounds of birds and waterfalls bounced off orchids and palms.
This was a real treat, and many admitted they hadn’t been to the zoo since they were kids. And that’s just one of the reasons Azul launched—to get adults back to the zoo and to raise awareness about conservation and sustainability, here and beyond Minnesota.
Minnesota Zoo CEO Lee Ehmke stepped up for the night’s remarks to hit this message home.
“The zoo isn’t just for kids” Ehmke said, who describes himself as a “zoo nerd.” “If we’re going to wait for the kids coming up to save nature . . . it’s going to be too late.” My heart sank when he mentioned one of my favorite animals as an example, the threatened extinction of the tiger—according to Ehmke, there’s only 3200 left in the world.
To get adults to connect to nature, animals, and each other, the zoo hosts some not-so-kid-friendly events throughout the year, from the Valentine’s Day Love Tour (learn about mating habits in the wild!) to the black-tie Beastly Ball in April.
Ehmke winked that there’s more opportunities than just meeting furry friends. “I met the love of my life, Sue Chin,” Ehmke said nodding to his sweetheart across the room. “You never know what you’ll find at the zoo.”
Penguins of the African Coast opens July 9