Benefactors of the Little Rock Zoo are hoping for a roaring success at the 13th annual Wild Wines, voted Best Fundraising Event in Arkansas by AY Magazine readers two years in a row.
Wild Wines features two nights of great libations, the best food from central Arkansas area restaurants, live music and extraordinary up-close encounters with animals from the Little Rock Zoo’s Animal Ambassador program.
“I personally think it’s the best charity event there is, actually,” says Kelly Rigby, who is chairing the event for the second consecutive year and says she can hear the monkeys’ chatter from her house. “You get to walk around a zoo at night, which is a pretty unique, cool experience, and everywhere you go there’s going to be music playing, all different kinds of bands, all kinds of people are there. It’s just fun. It’s a really positive energy.”
Friday night’s VIP party is set in and around Cafe Africa and the Civitan Pavilion. It features higher-end wines, food and live music from The Rodney Block Collective. A limited-edition souvenir wine glass and access to Saturday’s party are included with the $150 ticket purchase. The Saturday night “Mane” event features food from more than 40 restaurants and catering establishments, more than 250 hand-selected wines from O’Looneys Wine and Liquor to sample, and five live music areas with D Harp Steel Drums, SynRG, Billstown and more. A souvenir wine glass is included with the $75 ticket purchase. Beer and other beverages will be available for non-wine drinkers.
All proceeds from Wild Wines benefit the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) raising funds for the growth and development of the Little Rock Zoo. In previous years, Wild Wine funds helped build the Arkansas Heritage Farm and conservation education center.
“Your dollar is actually making an impact,” Rigby says. “Your money stays local. It’s 100 percent Little Rock. And one of the most unique parts about Wild Wines is that it’s in the zoo, right where your dollars are going.”
She says giving to the Little Rock Zoo is a good investment for the institution and the city, as well.
“When you look back, they have done so many improvements over the past 15 years. It’s absolutely amazing how far it’s come,” Rigby says.
The Little Rock Zoo is one of the less than 10 percent of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the USDA across the country to be accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. To receive accreditation, the Little Rock Zoo has to meet the AZA’s standards for animal management and care; enrichment to stimulate natural behavior and provide variety in their daily routine; involvement in conservation and research, education programs, safety policies and procedures, security, physical facilities, guest services, and the quality of the institution’s staff; as well as its finances, governing authority, and support organization.
“We only have one zoo in Arkansas. It’s such a great place for families from all over the state to come and learn and see and to have interactions that they never would be able to. It’s become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Little Rock. So when people come to the zoo, they’re also going to spend a whole day, especially if they’re from out of town and spend money elsewhere in the city. It’s good for all of central Arkansas, not just the zoo itself,” Rigby says.
Should there be rain, a contingency plan is in place to move the event to War Memorial Stadium, but Rigby is hoping for clear skies and moderate temperatures. Either way, the dress code calls for creative casual to match this year’s theme, Rio.
“So bright colors,” Rigby says. “The zoo just got new macaws, so we’re basing it all around that. Everything is bright and fun this year. Guests will even have the opportunity to meet the zoo’s new macaws for a photo opportunity.
“My biggest recommendation is to wear comfy shoes because you’re walking all over the zoo. I saw some girl last year in, like, six-inch heels and I was like …,” she says, eyes bulging. “There’s a lot of dancing. Even the elephants come out and dance.
“Be comfortable. It’s a good time. I mean, you’re at the zoo. How can you not have a good time?”
Wild Wines, benefitting the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, will be held at the Little Rock Zoo, with a VIP party on Friday, April 26, from 7 – 9 p.m., and the “Mane” Event on Saturday, April 27, from 7 – 10 p.m. For more information, please log on to littlerockzoo.com/eventcalendar.
Two amazing nights at the Zoo benefiting the Arkansas Zoological Foundation. Buy tickets now! For more information, please log on to littlerockzoo.com/eventcalendar.
Friday, April 26
7 – 9 p.m.
THE “MANE” EVENT
Saturday, April 27
7 – 10 p.m.
*Includes Saturday admission. Must be at least 21 years old to attend. Please bring ID.