There are numerous ways humankind can help protect and preserve wild animals, such as building birdhouses, saran-wrapping the Serengeti, or pickling the Galapagos Islands. Do your part with today's Groupon which lets you protect the animal world the old fashioned way–with cocktails: for $10, you get one ticket to the Cocktails for Conservation event at the Chattanooga Zoo (a $20 value). This event, for people 21 and older, will take place on Friday, February 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.
A recent $10 million renovation spruced up dens for the zoo's residents and entices guests to explore exhibits while enjoying complimentary wine, beer, and light hors d'oeuvres (mixed drinks are available for $4 each), all to promote local and global animal conservation. Loved ones can spend one night of their Valentine's Day weekend getting jolly with jungle cats, hanging with chimpanzees, or discussing the rebounding housing market with a prehensile tailed skink. Funds raised from the event will support general conservation efforts, which range from tracking studies of endangered Argentine jaguars to development of a groundbreaking breeding program for the rapidly disappearing hellbender, the largest salamander in the United States after Newt Gingrich.
The Chattanooga Zoo opened its doors in 1937 with an exhibit containing two rhesus monkeys. Pretty soon, it had expanded to include bobcats, lions, and gators, until eventually becoming the venerable non-profit institution it is today, supporting conservation efforts for rare and endangered species around the world.
In the zoo's forest area, chimps, bobcats, and tortoises roam their habitats to the sound of churning water beneath two waterfalls. Red pandas scurry around a Himalayan habitat, and spider monkeys spin gossamer webs in the jungle area. Kids can play with goats and pot bellied pigs at the petting zoo, or take a few revolutions on the carousel. With a refurbished frame from 1927, it spins guests on the backs of hand-carved seats fashioned after endangered animals such as snow leopards and low lying gorillas.
Behind the scenes, the zoo's caretakers work to rehabilitate hundreds of animals each year so that they can return to the wild. They also lead conservation efforts for rare species—including snow leopards, fennec foxes, and cotton-top tamarins—and educate thousands of students annually with interactive events catered to school curricula.