Pirates of the Channel Islands

“Ahoy mateys” rang out as we were welcomed to a wild fundraiser for the animals of the Santa Barbara Zoo–Zoofari Ball XXII. All sorts of pirates and wenches entered the gates to start the evening, not “walking the plank” but with a Plank Walker compliments of Tommy Bahama Rum. We hoisted our glasses and chatted with the parrots and their handlers.

Our course of adventure lay up the hill where buccaneers were dropping doubloons at the silent auction and buying chances for the pirate chest with only one key to open up the treasure. Hordes of fancy hors d’oeuvres were plundered, especially the shrimp and scallop skewers by the sold-out crowd of 560. There was even a waiting list of would-be pirates and their mates.

The evening’s debauchery could be recorded with a photo op in the cocktail area. There were photo ops for this journalist everywhere. All the eye patches in town were here. Linda and Don Fareed wore vests with all 22 of the Zoofari medals attached. Milt Larsen looked like a real scoundrel with a three-day growth of beard. Dean Mars had the scariest pirate’s teeth of all, yellow and crooked with one big gold tooth. There were swords and “guns” and knives (plastic) all around. There was a pirate ship and tables laden with “gold coins” and treasure chests. The tattoo parlor was a big hit–henna tattoos, of course. The live auction was held before dinner with the Ecuadorian trip selling for twice the asking price before the auction began.

We weighed anchor at the secret pirate hideout at the top of the hill and feasted on tasty grub from Rincon Catering with all wines donated by Andrew Murray Vineyards. Guests shook their booty on the dance floor ‘til the wee hours.

In charge of this grandiose affair were Lisa Carter and Nancy McToldridge and a committee of over 30 volunteers who all worked. $10,000 Platinum Admiral sponsors were Chad and Ginni Dreier, Leslie Ridley-Tree, and Sue and Terry Schwartz, followed by a platoon of other sponsors.

Honorary Chairs Patricia and Alan Griffin wanted us to know that the zoo is a nonprofit corporation. The nearly $8 million operating budget is generated through operations, with capital improvements supported by generous individuals, corporations or foundations. Coming attractions will be California Trails, a new exhibit featuring Condor Country. I can remember when I moved here in 1976 there was only a small petting zoo and not much else. So yo ho, yo ho! See you at the zoo.

Flutter On By

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History held its 4th Annual Neighborhood Picnic recently, and the Butterflies Alive! Exhibit was the feature attraction. If you lived in the 93105 zip code your good neighbor sent you an invitation with a striking butterfly painting on the cover, done by Mara Abboud. The original titled Flights of Fancy is already in the private collection of Dr. and Mrs. Gerald R. Valcarenghi.

Guests got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Collections and Research Center where more than 3 million artifacts are housed. Surprisingly the oldest human remains found in North America – that’s 13,000 years ago – are here. They were discovered on Santa Rosa Island in the 1950s. This find has been shown on the Discovery Channel, and the Museum has received a grant from National Geographic.

We saw the largest egg ever found in the world weighing in at 18 pounds from an extinct elephant bird. Thirty three thousand hummingbird eggs (the smallest in the world) would fit inside the elephant-bird egg. Sounds like an old-fashioned circus sideshow or something for the Guinness Book of World Records!

We also entered the Butterfly Pavilion where a thousand butterflies “fluttered by” during the summer show. Each day new ones are added as they hatch. There was a platter of delicious watermelon and orange slices, not for us, but for the butterflies. I didn’t know they liked fruit. Before we left the enclosure we had to be sure no butterflies were “hitchhiking” a ride on us.

Executive Director Karl Hutterer was there to give us an update on the renovation plans for the Mineral and Gem Gallery and Bird Diversity Hall opening in the next 12 months. He also showed me the amazing room where they store all the things that local schools can check out for teaching aids, including many taxidermy animals and birds.

There was a mountain lion attending the picnic, but not to worry. He was stuffed and lying on a table when a “shark” (Heather Lahr) tried to “eat” him! Then it was time to mosey across the bridge and chow down on Country Catering Company’s barbequed tri tip and chicken dinner. No decorations needed, just the tables under the beautiful trees–the perfect spot for a natural history museum.

Putting together this Neighborhood Picnic was Chair and Special Events Manager Meridith Moore, Patricia Sadejhian, Development Assistant Jill Johnson, and Business Manager for the Ty Warner Sea Center Kenneth Freeland. The Museum gives several events each month. Kids, large and small, are sure to enjoy the Snakes Alive! presentation by Zoo to You September 15. Phone 682-4711 for information.