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Travis Andres, ZTD2 After Party chair; Mary Gorter

ZOO TO DO 2018: Safari Soirée presented by Eugene McDermott Foundation and Ruth O’Donnell Mutch Surpasses its $1 Million Goal 


Torrential rain did not dampen spirits or fundraising at Zoo To Do 2018: Safari Soirée as patrons, sponsors and guests showed their support in Marsalis Hall at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, raising more than $1.25 million for the fourth consecutive year! [The Zoo was successful in raising more money to support its animals and programs this year, continuing to exceed its fundraising goals and increasing the amount raised each year.] This represents the second-highest grossing Zoo To Do in its 27-year history.

About 48 hours before the event, which is traditionally held outside on the grounds of the Dallas Zoo, chairs Kim and Greg Hext had to make the call on whether to move the event indoors and Mother Nature proved they absolutely made the best call to move inside. Rain poured all day and most of the evening.

Huge kudos to the Hyatt Regency Dallas for stepping up in support of the Dallas Zoo and the Zoo To Do event in every way. Heartfelt thanks also go to the event’s designers, zoo staff and volunteers who created an ambience full of greenery, bringing in live Dallas Zoo Ambassadors, including Winspear the cheetah, bigger-than-life transparent statues of animals lit up, lush and fanciful table centerpieces, and total support from all of the participating restaurants, chefs and staff.

This event’s smashing success was the result of the hard work of underwriting committee Diane Brierley, Lane Britain, Mike Gruber and Michael Meadows; host committee chairs Barbara and Don Daseke; live auction chairs Hal Brierley, Don Glendenning and John Levy; host committee members; and support from honorary event chair Ruth O’Donnell Mutch, patrons, underwriters, and sponsors.

Arriving guests were greeted by valets sponsored by Highland Park Village and upon arrival at check-in were interactive animal demonstrations, which brought home the real reason everyone supports the Dallas Zoo.

Guests were treated to cocktails courtesy of bar sponsors Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer as they roamed through the raffle prizes chaired by Robyn Chauvin; Silent Auction chaired by Rozalyn Colombo and Nancy Gopez; and Big Board Auction chaired by Cindy Gummer. A special treat for patrons at certain levels was the VIP Lounge experience.


Honorary Chef Chair Dan Landsberg of Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa, along with Chef Wrangler Brett Krafft from the Hilton Lincoln Centre cruised the strolling dinner with guests among the 27 restaurant stations representing the finest restaurants in Dallas. At each station, executive chefs served delicious gourmet treats of appetizers, entrée specialties and desserts.

Two very special additions were made to this year’s Zoo To Do: Chef’s Appreciation luncheon for participating chefs and their families, chaired by Ellen Winspear, was held at the Dallas Zoo over the summer, and the fabulously fun

Zoo To Do 2: The After Party, chaired by Travis Andres, which was attended by more than 100 guests.


The show began as Live Auction emcee Jenny Anchondo, former news anchor, reporter and media host, welcomed everyone and introduced  Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo, who recognized Kevin Hanrahan, chairman of the board and thanked everyone for their support and attending the evening’s event. He brought the chairs on stage who also expressed their heartfelt thanks to everyone for their generosity benefiting the Dallas Zoo, support of this event and encouraged high bidding on the live auction items, next up.

The spirited Live Auction featured rare Zoo experiences, travel and some favorites: Overnight camping “Glamping” at the Dallas Zoo; Dinner and Conversation with “Jungle Jack” Hanna at the Dallas Zoo; Breakfast with the Dallas Zoo Elephants; and an All-Star Chef Dinner Party donated by Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa, Dan Landsberg; Parigi, Janice Provost; Suze, Gilbert Garza; Salum, Abraham Salum; Sachet and Gemma, Stephen Rogers. Official Zoo To Do Airline was American Airlines and Photo Opportunity Sponsor was Bank of America.

Following the auction, the Zoo To Do 2 after-party crowd joined in the celebration and everyone danced the night away with live music from Emerald City All-Stars.


Participating restaurants were: 7-Eleven Inc., Kelly Buckley; Abacus, Chef Christopher Patrick; Asador, Chef Mark Guatelara; Botolino Gelato, Chef Carlo Gattini; Café Momentum, Chef Patton Robertson; CBD Provisions at the Joule Hotel, Chef Nick Walker; Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House, Chef Lan Nickens; Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza, Chef Dan Landsberg, Honorary Chef; El Bolero Mexicana Cocina, Chef Jose Salmeron; Empire Baking Company, Chef Meaders Ozarow; Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck, Chef Jacob Williamson; Gemma/Sachet, Chef Stephen Rogers; Hypnotic Donuts, Chef Jessica Brown; Imoto, Chef Kent Rathbun; Lovers Seafood and Market, Tracy Rathbun; Mozzarella Company, Chef Paula Lambert; Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co., Karen Nicholson; Neiman Marcus The Zodiac, Chef David Crow; Nothing Bundt Cakes - Dallas-Highland Park, TX, Tara Cooper; Parigi, Chef Janice Provost; Pink Magnolia, Chef Blythe Beck; Salum, Chef Abraham Salum; Sevy's Grill, Chef Jim “Sevy” Severson; Shinsei, Chef Carlos Capistran; Suze, Chef Gilbert C. Garza; and Two Sister’s Catering, Chef Jake Derrough.


Many thanks to media sponsors PaperCity Magazine, Park Cities News/The Waters Family, Downtown Business News and

Zoo To Do is a major source of funding for the Dallas Zoo.  With the proceeds from the event, the Zoo is able to continue providing outstanding education, entertainment and wildlife conservation.


For more information, visit the website at


About the Dallas Zoo: The Dallas Zoo, recently named one of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos by USA TODAY, is the largest zoological experience in Texas. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the Zoo features a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The Zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis) and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit or call 469.554.7500. DART is the official transportation provider of the Dallas Zoo, and its Red Line stops at the Zoo’s main entrance.


Photos by Dana Driensky, Daniel Driensky and Cathy Burkey.


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