A Big Tent, Making a Big Difference

If you visited the zoo this week, you probably noticed the massive tent stretching over the Main Mall. I saw plenty of guests resting beneath it, enjoying a nice bit of shade. Tomorrow, though, it will be transformed, taking on a new elegance as it shelters Lincoln Park Zoo’s largest fundraiser.

Hosted by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo, Zoo Ball 2012: The Great Catsby will welcome 1,000 of Chicago’s top philanthropists, bringing them together to support our free—and excellent—zoo.

As always, it’ll be a great party. I look forward to being amazed by everything Women’s Board President Abby Zanarini and Zoo Ball Co-Chairs Cynthia Ross Polayes and Suzanne A. Meder have put together. But underlying the fun is a massive commitment to the zoo and its mission. Since Zoo Ball began in 1977, the Women’s Board has raised millions of dollars to support animal encounters, conservation and care.

Since proceeds from Zoo Ball 2012 will support the Women’s Board’s $2 million pledge to create Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, I thought I’d highlight how their support makes a difference by sharing some updates from the zoo’s urban oasis.

Fledgling black-crowned night herons stretch their wings as they learn to fly. Photo by Roy Slovenko

Photo by Roy Slovenko

Fledgling black-crowned night herons stretch their wings as they learn to fly. Endangered in Illinois, this species has found a refuge at Nature Boardwalk.

Male American goldfinches display their brilliant yellow breeding plumage near the pond.

Male American goldfinches display their brilliant yellow breeding plumage near the pond.

Butterfly weed blossoms among the prairie grasses

Butterfly weed blossoms among the prairie grasses—one of the plants sustaining the 14 butterfly species found at Nature Boardwalk.

Swamp milkweed also offers a beautiful source of nectar.

Swamp milkweed also offers a beautiful source of nectar.

Visitors of all ages explore Nature Boardwalk’s 14 acres of native wildlife.

Visitors of all ages explore Nature Boardwalk’s 14 acres of native wildlife.

The Chicago skyline from the Lester E. Fisher Bridge is one of the city’s most beautiful views.

The Chicago skyline from the Lester E. Fisher Bridge is one of the city’s most beautiful views.

As the photos show, Nature Boardwalk has succeeding bringing together people and wildlife. I visit nearly every day to observe the birds passing through. So whether or not you join me under the tent for Zoo Ball tomorrow, I know you join me in thanking the Women’s Board for everything they do for Lincoln Park Zoo.

Kevin Bell

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