ZooFari, Back From The Brink

A Fundraiser for Phoenix Zoo/ Arizona Center for Nature Conservation

Dinner was served lakeside. Rendez-Zoo, 2016.

Before there was Rendez-Zoo, there was ZooFari. The original black-tie fundraiser for the Phoenix Zoo invited guests to roam the trails, stopping at various spots along the way to enjoy food, cocktails and music. Many took the fun to an elevated level and embellished formal attire appeared; tuxedos, each with a tail, were spotted among animal print dresses.

Wanting to shake things up a bit, the organizers reinvented the format in 2010. The fundraiser, renamed Rendez-Zoo, began with a cocktail hour as attendees mingled, reviewed the silent auction items and purchased raffle tickets. Guests were then escorted to the lakeside for a seated-gourmet dinner followed by live music and dancing under the stars.

Bert Castro, president and CEO of Phoenix Zoo/ Arizona Center for Nature Conservation pictured with resident giraffe.

Thanks to Yvonne Betts, who will be chairing this year’s ZooFari, Back From The Brink on October 14 with husband Steve, the idea to merge both fundraising formats was conceived and adopted. Those wanting to support Phoenix Zoo and its conservation efforts now have two options when purchasing tickets for the 2017 event.

The VIP Reception and Dinner Ticket will grant you access as a VIP guest. Arriving at 6 p.m., VIPs will enter an exclusive reception overlooking the Zoo’s picturesque lakeside to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, libations and entertainment. VIPs will meet select animal ambassadors and be the first to bid on an array of exciting silent auction packages. An elegant seated dinner will follow on the terrace of the C.W. & Modene Neely Education and Event Center. The festivities will continue as VIP guests are escorted to the lakeside area to join the ZooFari Party in progress. A private den will host VIP guests throughout the night for relaxation and mingling. For more information, visit http://rendezzoo.org/vip-reception-dinner/

 ZooFari Party attendees will arrive at 7 p.m. and be ushered lakeside. As these Party ticket holders mingle, they will enjoy sampling an array of tasty cuisine created by local chefs and libations from beverage purveyors. The evening will feature live music, dancing under the stars, the Zoopendousaurus raffle, silent auction and more. A full cash bar service is available throughout the event. For more information, visit


Jiwa, a Bornean orangutan, with his mother Bess. Bornean orangutans are endangered.

The Mission of Phoenix Zoo /Arizona Center for Nature Conservation is to advance the stewardship and conservation of animals and their habitats while providing experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world.The goal of this annual event is to raise money to aid Phoenix Zoo’s in its Mission.

“The ecosystem is so intertwined that removing  a single species can wreak havoc on the entire ecosystem,” explains Bert Castro, president and CEO of Phoenix Zoo/ Arizona Center for Nature Conservation. “Zoos have always been looked at as fun, wholesome places to bring your family. And we’re really good at that. But the core of who we are, and the evolution of where we’ve come from, is a true conservation organization. That’s why when you support the Zoo, you support the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation.”

The Phoenix Zoo, one of the largest private nonprofit organizations in the country, must rely on admissions, concessions, memberships, special event and philanthropic donations for its daily operations. Your attendance at ZooFari, Back From The Brink will help further its cause.

Left to right; Bert and Janice Castro with Yvonne and Steve Betts. Rendez-Zoo, 2016.

This year’s fundraiser, ZooFari, Back From The Brink, will transport guests to the past in two ways. In addition to the reimagined ZooFari, there will be the Jurassic experience of journeying back in time with the installation of the Dinosaurs in the Desert exhibit, which opens to the public on October 6.

Since the exhibit is not located in the area where the party will take place, several smaller dinosaurs will be moved to be included in the fun. Guests will leave with a swag bag that includes the program, tickets to the Zoo for the following day and tickets to the Dinosaurs in the Desert exhibit.

All guests will have the opportunity to pre-register for the extensive silent auction. Bidding begins online at 2 p.m. Tickets for the Zoopendousaurus Raffle will also be available online. VIP guests will have the opportunity of bidding at 5:30 p.m. on several items that will not be listed online. Attire for the evening is listed as cocktail, but guests are welcome to dress up if they wish.




WHEN: Saturday, October 14

WHERE: Phoenix Zoo

ATTIRE: Cocktail and/or Animal-Inspired Attire

CONTACT: www.rendezzoo.org or

602.286.3800, extension 7357


VIP Tickets begin at $500 per person

Party Tickets:

$250 per individual

$225 each for 25-49 tickets

$200 each for 50 or more tickets

Residents were on hand to greet the guests. Rendez-Zoo, 2016.