Miller Park Zoo making plans for annual fundraiser

Miller Park Zoo making plans for annual fundraiser

Sunday, July 5, 2009

BLOOMINGTON — The first steps for a pair of Sumatran tigers begin with a tango.

“Tango in the Jungle” is this year’s theme for the Miller Park Zoological Society’s annual Zoo Do fundraiser, planned 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 at the zoo, 1020 S. Morris Ave.

Society co-chairman Dave Oloffson said the group wants to raise $50,000 to build an exhibit for the zoo’s two Mueller’s gibbons, which in turn will help the tigers. Tickets for the fundraiser are $60 and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo in addition to an evening of dinner and dancing.

The gibbons, Frodo and his sister Sam, came from the Cincinnati Zoo in May 2007. The gibbons are native to Borneo and are listed on the endangered species list.

But the fundraising efforts will do more than help the gibbons.

“A new gibbon exhibit is one step toward bringing in the tigers,” said Susie Ohley, the society’s spokeswoman and director of development.

By moving the gibbons, the zoo will have the proper exhibit space in its Katthoefer Large Animal Building to properly accommodate the breed pair of Sumatran tigers, Ohley added.

Securing the tigers has been the ultimate goal of the zoo’s long-term fundraising effort, Operation Roar.

“This is a project that will be finished in years, not months,” Ohley said of Operation Roar.

Completion of the animal hospital last year was key to upgrading the facilities so the zoo can participate in the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan, an international effort to save the species, said zookeeper Wendy Klessig.

The Sumatran is the smallest of the tiger species. There are roughly 400 Sumatran tigers in the wild.

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