The event hall at the Gladys Porter Zoo was packed with tables covered in items that were being set up for a blackboard auction that took place Saturday evening.
Auction tables were piled high with everything from designer accessories, spa gift cards, framed paintings, to name brand power tools.
Zoofari Chairwoman Mary Carey, along with more 20 volunteers who came from all over the Valley, gathered together to set up all the items and to do some last minute decorating for the silent auction.
The blackboard auction featured approximately 400 items ranging from jewelry, art, home décor, furniture, tools and children’s toys.
Carey, who has been Chairman of the Zoofari for 2 years now, said she was pleased to see all the items that were donated for the auction.
“I don’t think I have seen such an amazing variety and quality in the items as in years past,” she said.
The group diligently worked for a better portion of the morning making sure all the items were properly labeled and ready for the auction.
Proceeds from Zoofari 2012 will be used to fund the completion of the South Texas Discovery Center, a new education facility.
Zoo Director Patrick M. Burchfield said last Wednesday that the facility, which will increase educational space by 385 percent, furthers the zoo’s educational goals.
“You can’t have conservation without education,” he said.
But perhaps the most tantalizing detail of Zoofari 2012 was still being kept under wraps, the name of an 8-month-old baby gorilla that was auctioned off on Friday.
Carey did say that the she wasn’t sure if the winning bidder wanted anonymity, but she did say naming right’s for the baby gorilla, whose mother’s name is Martha, went for more than $5,000.
Last Wednesday, Carey said she expected the event to raise between $250,000 and $300,000. Burchfield has said the hope is that the education center will be opened by March or April of next year. But again, that’s dependent on fundraising, he has said.
Public Relations Coordinator Cristina Caballero said once the education center is completed, it will feature five classrooms, a natural history library, a graphic arts room, a campfire area for Starlight Safaris and would encompass nearly 10,000 square feet.
“So it’s just a whole lot of, really, just educating the children in what it is to conserve our planet and save dwindling species,” she said of the South Texas Discover Center.