An Island Soirée

text by Linda Hardwick   photos courtesy of Phoenix Zoo

Above, top: An overview of the lakeside area. Bottom: Up close with the Zoo’s great horned owl “Charlie.”

More than 1,000 Valley philanthropists, leaders and supporters of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo gathered on October 5 for an unforgettable outdoor celebration. In keeping with this year’s theme, ZooFari: An Island Soirée, guests traded in their gowns and black ties for tropical-chic attire.

Above, top leftSpeed painter Randall Hedden during the live auction. He had two paintings, both of zebras, sold for $4,000 each. Top rightZooFari 2018 Honorary Chairs Mary and Mark Bonsall with ACNC with Phoenix Zoo President and CEO Bert Castro. Bottom left: Guests enjoyed tempting libations from local beverage purveyors. Bottom right: The delicious cuisine was prepared by Lancer Catering. 

Upon entering, attendees were greeted by several animal “residents” and their keepers. In addition to the beautiful star-filled sky, ZooLIghts illuminated the landscape craeting a magical atmosphere.

First to arrive, the ZooFari Premium ticket holders entered at 5:30 p.m. Until 7 p.m., these VIP guests had access to the exclusive Tiki Lounge where they enjoyed cocktails and wine at the host bar and mingled while perusing the silent auction display. With an assortment of unique and exquisite items, the bidding was spirited. 

Above, top: The Tiki Lounge. Bottom: The Channel 3 and CBS 5 meteorology team of Ian Schwartz, April Warnecke, Kylee Cruz and Paul Horton.


Then, all partygoers were treated to an array of delicious delicacies and tempting libations from more than 40 of the Valley’s most notable restaurants, caterers and beverage purveyors. Guests danced the night away to the live musical sounds of 2nd Shift and Patrick Sieben.

The Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation Board of Trustees along with the 2018 ZooFari honorary chairs, Mary and Mark Bonsall, and their Committee thank everyone for their generous support of this year’s ZooFari.

Above: Guests Melissa and Alex Forbes dance the night away to the tunes of the Patrick Sieben band.


While this year’s celebrations were undeniably unforgettable, the merits of the event truly commence after the evening concludes. Proceeds benefit the Zoo’s world-renowned conservation initiatives, excellence in educational programs as well as its mission. For more information, visit www.phoenixzoo.org