Zoo to Host Mardi Gras-Themed Valentine’s Day Celebration for Adults

By Kristy Kneiding

Inspired by the culture and cuisine of New Orleans, The Living Desert will host the inaugural Mardi Paws Masquerade Party on February 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the zoo and gardens. Tickets are on sale now for this adults-only Valentine’s Day alternative which will include authentic Crescent City fare, a full bar and a Mardi-Gras style parade that culminates in a lively celebration at Village WaTuTu.

Guests will be able to sample classic Cajun and Creole dishes, including Chicken-Andouille Gumbo, Crawfish Cakes with all the trimmings and Muffalettas. In addition to these New Orleans favorites, there will also be three special desserts served and top bar service available throughout the evening.

“The Living Desert is really transforming into the Big Easy for this new event,” said President/CEO Allen Monroe. “We want to offer something for everyone, and this evening is a great alternative for Valentine’s celebrations and definitely fits the bill for a memorable party. It’s a great way to enjoy a new tradition and support our desert conservation mission.”


Providing the live soundtrack to this unique happening are Zulluu, an Anglo-African fusion band fronted by a native South African, and Bonne Musique Zydeco, a Los Angeles-based sextet specializing in the Creole music of Southwest Louisiana and East Texas. Zulluu will lead the Mardi Paws Parade throughout the grounds to party central at Village WaTuTu. There, revelers will groove to the infectious rhythms and uninhibited beat of Bonne Musique Zydeco, which translates to “good Zydeco music.”

There will also be special Valentine’s Day shopping opportunities, a raffle prize drawing for a trip for four to New Orleans in the Fall and sign-ups for Behind-the-Scenes Tours at The Living Desert slated for the Spring and Summer. Raffle tickets are available online for $25 each at www.LivingDesert.org.

VIP and general Mardi Paw tickets are on sale now. The $150 per person VIP ticket includes a full Cajun dinner catered in the Stephen B. Chase Administration Building beginning at 5 p.m., two drink tickets and an opportunity to ride in the Mardi Paws Parade.

General admission tickets include a drink ticket for an adult beverage and are $65 per person for members of The Living Desert and $75 for non-members.

The event benefits The Living Desert’s operations and mission of desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation. For more information about The Living Desert and the first Mardi Paws Masquerade Party, call 760-346-5694, extension 2166 or 2162, or visit www.livingdesert.org to make reservations.