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Zoobilation Preview

Safari in the City

With the race in the rearview, our thoughts turn to our next culinary adventure: Zoobilation on June 14. The Zoo’s annual fundraiser/restaurant competition/extravaganza shows off the city’s best restaurants and caterers in a super-fun atmosphere amid some serious people-watching. We wondered if there would be anything new to make this year’s edition, “Safari in the City,” worth the schmoozing required to score a ticket to the perennially sold-out show. As it turns out, there are.

Eight new food booths will be sprinkled throughout, including Abbot’s Also candy, The Eagle’s Nest, Hal’s Fabulous Vegas Bar & Grille, and Plat 99, the sparkling new drinks-and-food destination at CityWay.

The new partnership with Hoosier Momma Culinary Cocktail Makers bodes well for inventive drinks with a Hoosier sensibility.

And, no doubt our favorite: Straight from NYC, The Naked Cowboy will be at the Oceanaire Seafood Room's booth this year, promoting the “Naked Oysters” being served up by chef Mark Marlar.

For those looking for the ultimate evening, the VIP tickets have taken it up a notch. (And the price is premium, too, at $450 a pop.) The Premium VIP Experience offers passed hors d’oeuvres and specialty cocktails at the entry plaza during a celebrity-style photo op, as well as an arrival gift. Premium VIP ticketholders will then have total access to the booths from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Added to the usual Oasis Lounge in the Dolphin Pavilion this year will be complimentary chair massages and an Instagram photo booth.

Given the intake volume and energy expended on the “dance floor,” maybe this is the best news of all: There will now be an “Exit Experience” as guests file out, offering Donato’s pizza to the foot-weary as they head home or to the official afterparty at the Marriott Downtown.