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Photography by Ann Chatillon

It was a wild night as the Friends of Santa Ana Zoo (FOSAZ), hosted its 20th annual, black-tie Zoofari fundraising gala for over 350 guests with a 1920’s theme entitled “Cat’s Meow.”  Zoofari takes place at one of the most unique venues in Orange County, the Santa Ana Zoo.

Guests started off the evening sipping cocktails with one special drink appropriately named, “Roarin’ Rickey’s Fizz” reminiscent of the Bathtub Gin tastings from the 1920’s. As guests perused the large silent auction, they enjoyed special up-close-and-personal visits with some of the animals. After dinner, an enthusiastic crowd participated in an extraordinary live auction and finished off the night dancing to the lively tunes of the “Class of 69”.

Co-chairs and emcees for the evening were OC Register columnistsFrankMickadeit and Barbara Venezia with Glen Fladeboe as auctioneer.  FOSAZ President Debbie Friedman and Executive Director Cathi Decker helped present special honors to Mark and Shio Hui Harrison; Lucille and Mike Harrison; David Exline and Amos Bracero. All were instrumental in bringing the Pavement of Progress team together by meeting with designers, contractors and architects.  The project resulted in the pathways and service roads at the Santa Ana Zoo to be eco-friendly and also provide improved accessibility for disabled guests and guests requiring mobile assistance.

A special “reveal” of the Ocelot location where the exhibit “Wild Cats of El Bosque Verde” (Wild Cats of theGreenForest) will be housed was held for the press and VIP’s in attendance; this was the first time the public was able to see the exhibit location before it is built.

The event netted approximately $80,000, adding to a total of almost half a million dollars to bring a pair of Brazilian Ocelots to the Zoo. Ocelots are beautiful exotic wild cats from South America, often described as miniature cheetahs. There are currently only 26 Brazilian Ocelots in theUnited States.

Zoofari is sponsored by FOSAZ, a non-profit organization which has helped support and improve the Zoo for over 31 years. The Santa Ana Zoo is Orange County’s only AZA accredited Zoo and is recognized as signifying excellence and commitment to animal care and conservation.