Summer Safari raises $200K for zoo

| Sunday, July 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium carried on the tradition of selling out its Summer Safari weeks in advance, leaving 2,500 lucky ticket holders reveling in their decision to avoid procrastination.

“People, in February, start asking when tickets go on sale,” said public relations manager Tracy Gray.

As expected, the crowd proved to be a perfect balance of the young and the restless co-existing with the bold and the beautiful. Kicking things off was a VIP cocktailer that drew the likes of co-chairs Joe and Anita Moran, Corina Diehl, Ziggy Murin and Kimberly Hanna, Dan Gilman and Amanda Kennedy, Jim Campbell andDebbie Flaherty, Tacy Byham, zoo prexy Dr. Barbara Baker, Paul Gitnik and Gene Svrcek, Kristen Svrcek and Nick Cron, and one of the original founding fathers, Jim “Doc” Mendelson.

Things didn't stay stationary for very long under the tents, though. After the gates opened for the general-ticket holders, the party became mobile, luring the masses throughout the grounds with designated pit stops to refuel on cocktails and bites from 30 area eateries. Musically speaking, the soundtrack at each station was put in the hands of the Calypso Gypsies Steel Drum Band, DJ Mike Mason, the Inconsiderate Few and the Standard Band — each adding its own flavor to an evening that raised $200K for the zoo's conservation and education programs.

Within the crowd, first-timers were equally matched by repeat attendees, although neither group hesitated to extoll the virtues of the annual event as it celebrated “15 Years Wild.”

“I love the atmosphere,” shared four-timer Chris Mielo. “It's the premiere party, I think.”

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