By: Susan Erler | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: February 2010
Jesalyn Pettigrew invites you and your special sweetheart to get “Wild at Heart” at the Tulsa Zoo this Valentine’s Day.
Everything is perfect. A four course meal, jazz music plays in the background, a glass of wine to complement dinner, and as you gaze into your sweetheart’s eyes you see…penguins? Yes, penguins and lions!
The 3rd annual Wild at Heart Valentine’s Dinner is right around the corner, and zoo officials are excited to host this special night in a brand new building. The new H.A. Chapman event lodge, located on the south side of the zoo, indeed overlooks the lion and penguin exhibits, but also gives the perfect backdrop for a fun and romantic Valentine’s evening.
Dinner will be Saturday, February 13, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $75 each, and reservations are required. A four-course meal complete with wine and dessert, a live jazz band, a deejay and dancing are all included in the package. This event is open to the public, and all attending must be at least 21 years of age.
During the meal, guests will be entertained with a presentation by one of the zoo animal keepers. Guests from previous years have commented that this is their favorite part of the night. The topic for the presentation is “Courtship Rituals of Various Zoo Animals.” Jesalyn Pettigrew, group sales manager for the Tulsa Zoo, says that this is often the most fun and entertaining part of the evening. “The keepers enlighten the guests about which in the animal kingdom mate for life, how animals choose their mates and much more. It is really eye opening how much animals are actually like humans,” she says. This year, the curator from the rainforest exhibit will be the guest presenter.
A similar event used to be held at the zoo called “Romancing the Zoo.” Over the years, however, it had been put aside for other events. Two years ago, Jesalyn decided to bring back this romantic tradition and re-named it the Wild at Heart dinner. “Every year it gets bigger and better,” says Jesalyn. “We get new ideas and lots of return couples who give us their input on how to make the night even more special. Our hope is that it will continue to grow and be better and better.”
Space this year is limited to 50 couples, so be sure to get your reservations in early. Also, let the zoo know if you and your sweetheart wish to share a table with friends. They will make every effort to accommodate these requests, which can be made by calling (918) 669-6634. Dress for the event is business casual, and proceeds for the dinner will all go back to the zoo.
“We have lots of projects going on continuously at the zoo,” states Jesalyn. “Events like these are important in order for us to be able to complete and continue all of our projects.” Current projects include upgrades to the Nature Exchange, which now has a new roof and additional classrooms, and a new sea lion exhibit, which is scheduled to begin construction sometime in the spring.
Even though it is cold outside, Jesalyn still encourages people to think of the zoo as an entertainment option. “We have nine different buildings, with one of them being the rainforest building,” she says. “Guests can certainly stay warm while in these areas, plus our gift shop and restaurant are all open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are currently offering half-price admission on the weekends, and we always have discounts for groups of 25 or more.” According to Jesalyn, many animals are kept on the same schedules whether it is summer or winter as conditions permit, so guests at the zoo will get ample opportunity to see all of the animals outside. Many of them prefer the cold and will spend more time frolicking and playing during the cooler months.
For additional information about the “Wild at Heart” dinner or to make reservations, contact Jesalyn Pettigrew at (918) 669-6634.