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Anna G. Larson, Published September 19 2012

Fargo zoo celebrates its accomplishments with 'Zoolebration'

The Red River Zoo’s executive director Lisa Tate, who moved to Fargo from Boise, Idaho, in 2011, said she often hears people comment that they haven’t been to the zoo in 10 years.

“That’s when the zoo was really in its infancy,” she said. “It’s grown, it’s matured, and that’s what we’re celebrating” at tonight at the first ever Red River “Zoolebration.”

The goal of the celebration reaches beyond fundraising, said Margie Bailly, who is co-chairing the event with Laura Carley.

“We want people to come and re-experience the zoo,” she said. “The grounds are absolutely lovely, and it’s a contemplative, peaceful place.”

The celebration is a refresh to the zoo’s annual fundraiser, Furball, Bailly said.

“Zoolebration is about celebrating,” she said. “The zoo really has something for everyone.”

Well known in the zoo world for its breeding programs, Tate said the Red River Zoo is responsible for one-fourth of the red panda population in captivity in the U.S.

“What we’re doing here is pretty cool,” she said. “The zoo is a hidden treasure.”

The celebration will feature live music by Tucker’d Out, a local folk/bluegrass band, and a live auction of animal-themed art donated by local artists. Food and wine will be served.

Guests can win “Zoofaris” and “Zoolebration Conversations” in the silent auction.

Zoofaris are VIP tours of national zoos and aquariums, like the San Diego Zoo and the Denver Zoo. The tours were donated by the properties, Tate said.

Zoolebration Conversations include lunch or coffee with well-known local public figures, including Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani, Concordia President William Craft, WDAY anchors Robin Huebner and Kirsten Kealy, State Bank and Trust’s Mike and Dick Solberg, Forum Communications President Bill Marcil Sr. and Forum Publisher Bill Marcil Jr.

“This is the one I’m really excited about,” Bailly said. “What better way to learn about communications or banking than from a lunch with our local experts?”

Guests will be able to roam the grounds, visit the animals and take in the whole zoo experience during the celebration, Tate said.

“We want people to realize it’s more than just a zoo,” she said. “It’s a living museum.”

If you go

What: First Annual Red River “Zoolebration”

When: 6 to 9 p.m. tonight

Where: Red River Zoo, 4255 S. 23rd Ave.

Info: Tickets are $50, and $30 of that is tax deductible. All attendees must be at least 21 years old.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525