It's funny how adults think that they have to have kids in tow (theirs or someone else's) in order to come to the zoo. People recognize the natural connection that kids and animals have, but it's also true that adults enjoy that special connection as well. Sometimes our lives are just too busy or hectic with everyday things, and a relaxing visit to the zoo doesn't occur to us as an option.

Having a child along on your zoo adventure certainly helps to unleash the magic, so perhaps that's why I often hear "I haven't been to the zoo since my kids grew up." Truth is the zoo has plenty to offer adults as well.

For whatever reason it is that may have been keeping you away, stay tuned for the perfect excuse to break out of your doldrums and get a little wild. We've got a special evening planned for adults only that will help you appreciate the zoo in a whole different light. Lots of tiny white lights, that is. Scattered all through the trees and along fence lines in and around the Wild Asia exhibit.

"A Wild Affair" is just around the corner, and this evening at the zoo for the "21 and older" set is great fun. As we get ready to open the new Cat Canyon exhibit in mid-September, our Wild Affair theme this year is "Jammin' wit da Jaguars." We've booked the Smokin' No No's to help us jam in style. Dancing in the grass is encouraged but not required. New this year we'll have a comedian to lighten your mood, and you can discover the little kid still hiding inside you by riding our new trackless train from the Finnup Center entrance over to the event site.

Ten local restaurants and caterers are currently signed up to tempt your taste buds with samples of some of their favorite dishes, served in small portions so you've got plenty of room to roam Wild Asia and taste test at all the stops. Enjoy Thai, Mexican, barbecue, American fare and cactus salsa to name a few. Trust me, no one goes away hungry! Served in a beautiful setting surrounded by Asian animals, plants and architecture, this broad array of dishes is enhanced by a variety of wines, beers and non-alcoholic beverages to compliment your grazing.

Step through the Moon Gate of Wild Asia, and sit with friends to enjoy food, friends and music, or meander through the fabulous variety of auction items generously donated by members of the Garden City community. Chances are good you'll encounter a zoo volunteer displaying some of our Animal Ambassadors, including owls, boas and other critters that spend the rest of the year educating folks of all ages around southwest Kansas about animals and the environment.

People here in Garden City love their zoo, and our collection of live and silent auction items are a testament to that support. From personal services and objets d'art, to unique items, jewelry, event tickets, travel opportunities, special dinners and home decor, you'll likely find something you can't go home without. We hope you'll bid generously as the proceeds from A Wild Affair will start the fund-raising process for our next major improvement, a new primate exhibit. With the impending debut of Cat Canyon, also funded by Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo events like this one, BOO! At The Zoo, Blues at the Zoo and others, your contributions support a great cause.

A Wild Affair will take place Saturday, Sept. 7, in the Wild Asia exhibit inside Lee Richardson Zoo. The grounds will be decked out in classy evening attire, and it's not unheard of to hear our various species of cranes add their trumpeting voices to the sounds of the band! Food is served from 6 to 8 p.m., and the event runs until our guests pry themselves away from the fun.

Remember that the zoo will be closed all day that Saturday to allow us to prepare for our largest fundraiser of the year, and tickets will not be available at the door. Our early-bird price of $40 is available until Labor Day, with the regular $45 ticket price going into effect after Labor Day.

Tickets are available now at the zoo, Baker Boot, Davis Designs, Patrick Dugan's Coffee House, Ward's Garden Center and Wheatfield's on Main, as well as online at A limited number of reserved tables are available for groups (call FOLRZ for information). Attire is festive casual, so come ready to show off your spots or stripes. But whatever you do, don't miss the fun.

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