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New York State Zoo prepares for 15th annual Zoo to Do fundraising

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Staff members at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park are enthusiastic as the annual Zoo-to-Do fundraiser comes into its 15th year.

“It shows that it is a continuing tradition in this community, and it shows we have been able to keep things interesting,” said John T. Wright, the zoo's executive director.

Mr. Wright said the black-tie-optional event Saturday will pair the food of Boo Wells, of The Farm House Kitchen, with the wine of Coyote Moon Vineyards. Benjamin Plante will perform live at the fundraiser.

Mr. Wright said the event, to be held at the Black River Valley Club, will be more intimate this year, and that he was planning for a turnout of about 200.

The event will also feature several live and silent auctions. Among the items to be auctioned are a series of romantic getaways, sports packages such as tickets to a Syracuse basketball game and reserved seating at the Tilted Kilt restaurant, along with special liquor and beer baskets. Mr. Wright said there will be other packages specifically for children.

“We're trying to package a bunch of presents in one auction item,” he said. Also to be auctioned is the zoo's Dinner with the Director, an after hours southern hospitality-style dinner for up to 20 people along with a private tour of the zoo.

The event raised $31,855 in 2011. The funds go to the zoo's educational outreach program.

“It is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and has been so for many years,” Mr. Wright said.

Tickets can be purchased for $60 by calling 782-6180 or by visiting nyszoo.org. This year is the first attendants can purchase tickets online.

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