We have a lot to be proud of here in Nashville: a world around-envied music scene, a restaurant scene that’s gone “boom,” our own hit TV drama and a housing market that’s been called the third-hottest in the U.S., just for starters.
Somewhat less in-the-headlines but deserving nonetheless: We also have a fantastic zoo that welcomes three quarters of a million visitors every year. It’s already a remarkable learning experience for animal lovers, with more than 6000 animals and 339 species, from huge African Elephants to tiny blue poison arrow frogs. Once expansion plans are complete (including the opening of a new spider monkey exhibit next year), it’ll also be one of the largest zoos in the U.S.
So, all that said, the Nashville Zoo is certainly worthy of support. And every year, we get a particularly special opportunity to show that support: the Sunset Safari, coming up this year on Thursday, October 1.
We don’t think we’re overstating when we say the Safari is a fundraiser unlike any other fundraiser you’ll find in town. Over the course of the evening event, attendees not only have access to bites and beverages from some of the best-loved restaurants and shops in our booming food town, but to a host of special animal friends, too.
As you stroll the zoo trails during the party, sampling food and drink and listening to live music (Forlorn Strangers, Doc Allen and the Heartstrings and others are on the bill this year), staff members will introduce you to a variety of residents, from a furry Tamandua (a truly cute, petite member of the anteater world, see above) to a variety of feathered faces.
Folks who purchase VIP-level tickets (either Patron or Benefactor) get extra access to “unique animal experiences,” including photo ops, so it may be worth a splurge if you want to show extra Zoo support and get some extra-special Instagram fodder. (If you’re not already following us on Instagram, here we are.)
Among the 50-plus local restaurants that’ll be serving at this year’s Sunset Safari: City Winery, Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Burger Republic, Amerigo, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Edley’s Bar-b-que, Watermark, Virago, The Southern Steak & Oyster, The Local Taco, Kayne Prime, Saffire, Sambuca, Saint Anejo and many others.
Tickets range from $75-$150 for main event admission (guests ages 21 to 29 on the lower end) to $250 and $1000 on the VIP levels, and all include unlimited food and drinks from the providers on site. Drop by the Nashville Zoo website for details on what different levels include, and/or to buy your tickets (online sales go through Wednesday at 3 p.m.).
All funds raised at the event will go to support the Nashville Zoo’s education and conservation programs, so your far-from-ordinary evening out will have lasting effects.
Allow us to also recommend some light reading (and photo ogling) on Enzi, the baby Masai giraffe born in July. His name is Swahili for “powerful,” and he’s sure powerfully adorable.