Spring is off to a hopping start at the zoo and it doesn't look like it's going to slow down any time soon! In addition to events that took place this past week (our Earth Day "Party for the Planet" celebration and a second "zoo doo" compost sale), we have a lot more exciting things planned for the upcoming months. Watch for details on our Member's Behind the Scenes tour in May (non-members can join the fun for a fee), five summer zoo camps in June and July, A Wild Affair in July and a highly anticipated "reprise" of the theatrical production Cat Tales the first two weeks of June.

Last year Garden City was wowed by a fabulous Vaudeville-style production called Cat Tales, courtesy of Doral and Vince Mancini, who generously donated all the proceeds of the show to Cat Canyon. The Mancinis have again assembled an amazingly talented cast and crew for another go at the fun. This year's show, Animal Crackers in My Zoop, will take place the first two weeks of June. Advanced ticket sales start May 3, and the Finnup Center box office opens on May 17.

The Animal Crackers cast has been dreaming, scheming and working hard since January to ensure that this year's show will be as entertaining as Cat Tales was, and rehearsals are ramping up as June is just over a month away. With a combination of comedy sketches, music and more, you'll enjoy an evening of talent and fun you won't soon forget. All performances take place in the Finnup Center for Conservation Education, which is turned into a theater for the duration of the show. After the performers have tickled your funny bone, let the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo tempt your sweet tooth with a starlight dessert buffet (included with your ticket) accompanied by live music provided by local musicians on the back lawn of the Finnup Center for Conservation Education.

Thanks to the generosity of the Mancinis and the show's cast and crew, Animal Crackers will help the zoo raise the remaining funds needed for Cat Canyon, a more natural and spacious exhibit for our mountain lion, bobcats and jaguars. The response from the community has been amazing, both in generating excitement and funds for the exhibit. As a nonprofit organization, the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo (FOLRZ) has been raising funds for new and improved exhibits at the zoo since 1975. Cat Tales brought in $25,000 for the project last year, and FOLRZ has since surpassed their original goal of $600,000 for the exhibit. An architect is currently developing construction documents for the project, and we anticipate that some additional monies will be needed to close the gap between the 3-year-old estimate for the conceptual design and the cost of the project in the current construction market. When those figures are known, and the financial gap is closed, we'll be able to break ground on this exciting new exhibit. You can help support that effort and have a great evening out just by attending an Animal Crackers performance. Don't miss it. For more information on the event, visit the FOLRZ Web site at www.folrz.com or call their office at 276-6243.