As another warm mid-June day draws to a close, you’re enjoying a leisurely stroll amongst some of the most rare and endangered species on our planet. You enjoy the sweet and savory bites along the way as you watch Link, the baby pygmy hippo, frolic. A cool cocktail in your hand, you venture further and encounter him – Nemean, an African lion. As the early summer sun slips towards the horizon, the sun dazzles off his mane and his tail flicks lazily at a fly. Later, you might have the chance to hand-feed a zebra or hold hands with an otter. You might even see Betty Boop the warthog out for an evening stroll. Don’t let the sun, the animals, or the hospitality fool you though. You’re not in an African lodge – you’re at Tanganyika Wildlife Park and are experiencing the Twilight Tour.
If you haven’t noticed, we like to do things a little differently here at Tanganyika. We are in perpetual motion, constantly in relentless pursuit of our mission – connecting people to the natural world. Some days, pursuing our mission looks like a parking lot packed full with buses and educators running flat out to connect 900 school kids to the natural world. Other days, it looks like our Guest Ambassador team spending all day making sure an Ultimate Weekend family has a top-notch experience. No matter which way you look at it, our team is always busy teaching, connecting, serving, and providing impeccable animal care.
For us, Twilight Tour is a chance to slow things down just a little. There’s still a LOT going on – animal feedings, live painting demos, behind-the-scenes access, animal ambassadors, extra experiences and more – but as Kris Hurley, long-time Park supporter and Twilight Tour attendee puts it, “it’s nice to have an adults-only evening and the atmosphere is just more relaxed.” Snack on delicious sweet and savory bites from local restaurants and sample drinks from local wineries and breweries as you explore the Park.
Not only will you get to feed a rhino, pet a kangaroo, or have a lemur in your lap – Twilight Tour guests have unparalleled access to behind the scenes areas of the Park. As Kris Hurley put it, “If you enjoy Tanganyika on a regular visit, you’ll love it during the Twilight Tour. All the things that normally make TWP so special plus SO. MUCH. MORE. I really enjoy the opportunity to tour the barns and off-exhibit areas. Having the opportunity to see behind the scenes and to be able to spend time and really chat with the keepers is just such a unique experience.”
Jon and Mary Sendall have spent the last decade visiting the Park, attending Twilight Tour, and getting to know our team. From our front-line Support Team in the gift shop all the way to Matt Fouts, Tanganyika’s Director, Jon and Mary seem to know everyone – they even have their own reserved parking space! When I asked Mary what makes Twilight Tour so special for her, she said “Twilight Tour is our chance to give back to the park what they give us every day. We go to get away from the world and the animals amaze us every day. We have been able to swim with penguins, hug a sloth and give a rhino a mud bath. How many people can say that? We will continue to support this place and wish everyone knew how special it is and the people that make it run are.”
Twilight Tour is Tanganyika’s annual fundraising event. In addition to admission tickets – at three different levels – guests can purchase wine and liquor grab bags or cocktail glasses (that include free refills at cocktail stations throughout the Park). Purchasing a spin (or two!) on the Wheel of Experiences allows guests to win on-the-spot unique experiences – like that otter hand-hold I talked about earlier. The silent auction and Art Walk give guests the chance to bid on art made my our animal (and human) artists as well as baskets from local vendors. VIP and Elite guests are also treated to a plated dinner and can participate in the Live Auction.
As a family-owned business that receives no city, state, or federal funding, Twilight Tour allows Tanganyika to raise funds to continue to provide educational opportunities, experiences that connect you with the natural world, and, of course, the incredible care our animals receive on a daily basis. We hope you’ll join us on Saturday, June 11th for this unique event. To learn more and purchase your tickets, visit our website!
About the Author: Erinn Bock has been the Education Curator at TWP since 2009. Born and raised in San Jose, California, she studied Wildlife Biology and English Literature at Kansas State University. Ever since watching the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter as a kid, she’s known that she wanted to use her passion for the natural world to help connect people to the incredible animals on our planet. When Erinn’s not teaching camp or helping teachers plan field trips, she loves spending time reading, crafting, and taking care of her “mini zoo” at home.