Although "Cat Tales" is history, we still are hearing rave reviews from people all around town.

This fabulous production was the handiwork of Skip Mancini, with help from her husband, Vince, and a huge amount of help from many others on the cast and crew, the zoo staff, the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo and the Zoo Advisory Board.

A simple thanks for all of the work put into this fundraising event will never do the effort justice, but we are very grateful just the same!

Thanks to all of the performers, the many crews who helped load stages, risers and props in and out, the dessert makers, servers and eaters, and all the zoo staff and volunteers who spent countless hours before, after and during each performance setting up, putting away, and sharing zoo and exhibit information with patrons.

Also, thanks to all of the folks who bought tickets to the show, and to the local businesses and sponsors who helped with loans or donations of water coolers, a refrigerator, coffee, cookies, Kit Kat bars and more. Special thanks to the children who served as our Kit Kat Kittens each night, with their cute whiskers, noses, ears and irresistible appeal. They certainly have a future in fundraising and public service.

With donations still coming in, "Cat Tales" succeeded in raising more than $20,000 for Cat Canyon, a new exhibit planned for our jaguars, bobcats and puma.

In addition to growing the kitty of funds earmarked for the exhibit, "Cat Tales" did something equally wonderful that wasn't about money. It raised a greater awareness of the project, generated excitement about Cat Canyon and the zoo in general and brought a rejuvenated vitality to the Friends' fundraising effort.

With two more Cat Canyon fundraisers coming up, "A Wild Affair" in July and "BOO! At the Zoo" in October, we want to keep this momentum alive as we approach our goal of $600,000. "Cat Tales" helped FOLRZ surpass $400,000, putting us two-thirds of the way to our goal.

Once the necessary funds are secured, FOLRZ will begin the process of getting more detailed architectural plans for construction and put the project out for bid. The new exhibit will be built in the southwest quadrant of the zoo, just west of Kansas Waters and the swift fox exhibits. The exhibit will feature larger, more natural habitats for these three feline species, additional and more spacious night quarters, and many new safety features to benefit both the cats and the zoo staff.

Plans for Cat Canyon currently are on display at the site of the new exhibit west of the otters, and we will have some new thermometers showing funding progress going up on the zoo grounds very soon. If you would like to know more about Cat Canyon, or perhaps make a contribution to this project, just give the zoo a call.

And thanks again to Skip and Vince Mancini for providing their time and talents to benefit the zoo and Cat Canyon.

Lee Richardson Zoo is fortunate to enjoy such wonderful community support and to have many generous benefactors. The zoo would not be what it is today without such support and we, in turn, try to repay that generosity with high quality, affordable family recreation and education, as well as benefitting the area economically by attracting visitors from far and wide.

Our conservation efforts benefit many animal species that are disappearing in the wild, while providing local residents an opportunity to take a world safari without leaving home.

If it has been a while since you visited the zoo, set aside an hour or two to take a stroll here soon. Pedestrian admission is still free, and vehicle admission is just $3 for one trip through or $10 for a vehicle day pass.

Better yet, buy a membership starting at $25 and get free, year-round vehicle admission in addition to other member benefits. The zoo has lovely shaded walks to help you stretch your legs, great roads for biking and benches for resting, reading or just enjoying a peaceful moment.

Our lion cubs are delightful to watch, and our hundreds of other animals are here for you to appreciate, marvel at and learn from.

You don't have to have kids or grandkids to justify a visit, the zoo is great for grown-ups, too. Come see us soon.

Visit our award-winning Web site at www.garden-city.org.