Benefit: Guests Go Wild for Santa Ana Zoo “Zoofari” Fundraiser

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Guests were able to ride the Zoofari Express Train which brings a behind-the-scenes view of the Zoo.
Guests were able to ride the Zoofari Express Train which brings a behind-the-scenes view of the Zoo.

The Friends of Santa Ana Zoo (FOSAZ), a non-profit organization, hosted the 21st annual Zoofari fundraising gala at one of the most inspiring venues in Orange County: the Santa Ana Zoo.

More than 300 guests enjoyed the black-tie gala with a Victorian Faire theme entitled “Zoofari State Faire.” Guests were greeted by various animals and their docent “handlers,” including a three banded armadillo, a ball python, along with Danny the pony and Bindi the binturong.

This was followed by a hosted bar, appetizers, and a gourmet dinner prepared by Parties by Panache.

SoCal PBS Anchor Ed Arnold was the emcee for the evening with Glen Fladeboe as auctioneer for the live auction,

Emcee Ed Arnold and Denise Fladeboe-Mock
Emcee Ed Arnold and Denise Fladeboe-Mock

assisted by FOSAZ Board Member Debbie Newmeyer.

Special honorees this year were Debbie Friedman and Dan Dunshee, and Lori and Bobby Babcock.  They received awards for being instrumental in bringing the Santa Ana Zoo’s special events to the next level, thereby helping the animals and visitors to the Zoo. 

The event netted over $75,000, including $30,000 in the silent auction and $25,000 in the live auction.  

The most exciting live auction bids came during the final Live Auction item: donations to help the Santa Ana Zoo bring a Silver Langur to the Zoo. Almost everyone in the audience participated in raising the $12,000 needed to fund a “howdy cage” in addition to the exhibit. 

Patti Mickey, Tom and Sharon Jackson
Patti Mickey, Tom and Sharon Jackson

Other live auction items were: two  iPad Mini’s donated by Board Member Howard Hall; a Halloween Party for 20 with dinner and drinks won by Board Member Kristeen Stolo, 8 days/7nights in a one bedroom villa at the Cancun Resort in Vegas donated by Board Member Curtis Farrell, a Prada red Saffiano leather tote handbag donated by Board Member Patty McClendon (which was stuffed with over $800 in cash and 100 California Lottery “Scratchers”) won by Board Member Monica Kim, 5 days/4 nights at the St. Regis in Vancouver with airfare from Alaska Airlines won by Board Member Allen Goh, and the  rare-behind-the-scenes “Blue Ribbon Tour” private zoo experience, which was sold four times.  

Attendees also enjoyed decorations by R.W.B. Party Rentals and dancing to the dynamic tunes of the “Groove Factory”.

Zoofari is chaired by Cathi Decker and sponsored by FOSAZ, a non-profit organization which has helped support and

Scott Stewart host of What's Up OC speaks to Santa Ana Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi
Scott Stewart host of What’s Up OC speaks to Santa Ana Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi

improve the Zoo for over three decades. This year, Zoofari is raising funds for upgrading the train and paying off the loan for the Carrousel, along with starting funds for the Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel as well as building the “howdy cage” and exhibit space for the Silver Langur. 

Established in 1952, the Santa Ana Zoo is Orange County’s only AZA accredited Zoo and is recognized as signifying excellence and commitment to animal care and conservation. It is also home to more than 150 animals, including 50 of the most interesting and engaging monkeys and several endangered species.

For more information about the Santa Ana Zoo visit

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