I’ll be honest: The only reason I agreed to go to Zoo Brew was because I was promised there would be no children there.
I ride my bike past Salt Lake’s Hogle Zoo all the time, yet have never harbored a desire to go inside their gates. You see, zoos have animals, and I’m not talking about the ones in cages. Oh, no—I’m talking about the feral masses of small humans, with their temper tantrums, their boogers, their yelling, and their completely oblivious parents. The monkeys are usually better behaved than most children at the zoo and let us remember monkeys throw their poo.
I know my sentiment is in the minority in “be fruitful and multiply” Utah, so I simply live and let live—the kids can have the zoo, and I go play with other types of animals behind the Zion Curtain. It’s cool.
But every now and then, the gods smile on the grownups and create an event like Zoo Brew, the Hogle Zoo’s after-hours event for adults only. For $10.95, the 21-and-over crowd gets an all-access pass to the zoo.
Cash bars, pouring Squatters beers and various wines, are stationed next to major animal exhibits, allowing patrons to imbibe with the lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!). Food vendors elevate their offerings for the event to fit the tastebuds of the crowd, creating herb-marinated chicken or mac n’ cheese flavored with smoked pork belly and jalapeno. (Worry not, churro fans: your favorite zoo food indulgences of childhood are available as well.) Stars of the Utah Opera sing arias while seals glide and elephants wave their trunks in appreciation.
The event serves as more than just playtime for grown-ups: All proceeds from Zoo Brew go directly to conservation efforts around the world. Each Zoo Brew focuses on a particular animal in need of attention due to endangered status or threatened habitats—recent events have toasted the tortoise, tipped a long neck for giraffes, and poured ale for the apes.
Only one Zoo Brew remains for 2016—Wednesday Sept. 21, which is sold out. (The child-free zoo is a popular concept, as it turns out.) But change-of-plan ticketholders have been known to unload their tickets on Hogle’s Zoo Brew’s Facebook page, especially in the week leading up to the event.
For those who really want to go all out, tickets are available for Zoo Rendezvous, another adults-only event Thursday, Sept. 15. The $150 all-inclusive ticket includes unlimited samplings from local chefs and bartenders, live music, photo booths, and a silent auction. For more information, visit zoorendezvous.com.