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Travel coast to coast at ZOOfari

ZOOfari, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden's annual fundraising event, will be all over the place Saturday. And that's a good thing.

This year's theme is "A Toast to the Coast," and four areas of the park will be tied to a different region, each with its own signature cocktail.

The regions:

- The Palmetto Plaza will turn into the Lowcountry, where everything about South Carolina will be celebrated, including beach music, with the Fabulous Kays performing.

- Safari Camp will become something like the Baja peninsula, and you can expect Mexican cuisine and flair.

- Carousel Plaza will morph into the Gulf Coast, complete with Cajun flavors and the island sounds of the Florida Keys.

- The Saluda River Bridge will shift into the Pacific Northwest.

The highlight of ZOOfari is the auction, where an auctioneer will rattle off numbers and bids at a rapid pace.

Here's a few you'll need to have the paddle ready for:

African safari: Explore Africa - without leaving the city. You'll get to see what elephants and gorillas do in their off-exhibit habitat. Afterward, enjoy an African-themed dinner overlooking the elephants and meerkats in the Ndoki Plaza.

Lions, tigers and bears: Yes, oh my. You'll get the inside scoop - and, no, you won't have to do that kind of scooping - on the zoo's popular exhibits, as well as dinner next to the grizzly bears.

Cool party: Your kid - if they're age four to 10 - will undoubtedly have the coolest party of the year with up to 20 guests. Carousel rides, pony petting, pizza (wash you hands before you eat!), popcorn and a movie in the 3-D theater.

Cocktail party: You can have the coolest party of the year, too, with a cocktail party for 20 overlooking the giraffes and a fireside chat with Satch Krantz, the zoo's director.

Backyard makeover: Makeover shows are all over TV. Here's your chance to get your own - without the embarrassment of your messy backyard broadcast to millions of homes. The zoo's horticulture staff will design a focal point in your yard. And you won't have to listen to a guy named Ty shout through a megaphone.

Poster child: Who doesn't think their child or grandchild is the cutest thing ever? Enjoy a fun day at the zoo and then have your photo on an upcoming cover of the zoo's magazine. Everyone will love it.

IF YOU GO

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, 500 Wildlife Parkway

TICKETS: $85 or $75 for zoo members

INFORMATION: riverbanks.org or (803) 779-8717

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