Tents with taps of endless beer and food trucks filled to the brim came prepared for the fifth annual Brew at the Zoo event at the Henry Doorly Zoo July 14.
The event has been held annually for the last five years and is an opportunity for adults ages 21 and up to enjoy the perks of the zoo without children present. The zoo hires local breweries and food trucks for guests to check out at their convenience while they go from exhibit to exhibit.
Sallie Weathers, the marketing and events specialist at the zoo and a UNO alumna, organized this years’ Brew at the Zoo event. Her predecessor came up with the event idea, and for the past two years she has been the coordinator.
Weathers began planning for Brew at the Zoo in January by contacting local breweries and food trucks to ensure they had the date on their calendar. This year, six local food trucks and 21 breweries attended the event. The food trucks were spread out throughout the park and breweries set up their tents with kegs, cans and bottles for guests to choose from.
Brew at the Zoo began at 7 p.m. with a VIP only hour before the doors opened to the public at 8 p.m. The bottom half of the zoo was closed off to ensure the safety of the patrons, but popular exhibits such as the Desert Dome, the Scott Aquarium and the Lied Jungle were open to all. The sold-out event attracted 1400 people from all over Nebraska.
“It’s hard to do events like that during the day because the zoo has to be open to the public,” Weathers said. “Our Kingdoms of the Night exhibit is different during the day because the animals are nocturnal, so when we turn the lights on you get to see a totally different aspect of the animals and their interactions.”
Word of the event spread to UNO students through word of mouth and emails from the zoo about their special events. Bianca Ramirez was one of the attendees who took full advantage of the free beer samples and authentic food.
“I had fun because of the atmosphere and how everyone was enjoying themselves and learning about different breweries and what they made,” Ramirez said. “It was also fun to be able to go to some of the exhibits at night with less people, as opposed to during the day when it’s crowded.”
This event was most importantly a fundraiser for the zoo. All the money raised from Brew at the Zoo goes back to conservation, the zoo animals and animals in the wild all over the world. This year, the zoo began a partnership with Zipline Brewing Company called Beer for Conservation, and Zipline presented their Red Panda Wheat Beer at the event.
The Henry Doorly Zoo has several 21 and Up events, such as Late Nights at the Zoo on August 23 and Comedy Night in November.
“We do animal encounters where we have animal ambassadors that are designated to bring those animals out and show them to the public and talk about conservation,” Weathers said. “It’s kind of hard to see it as a fundraiser, but we really rely on events like this to keep us going.”