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Brew Night at the zoo

New zoo event promises to be a big pile of garbage ... and BEER!

Brew Night is the only place outside of a SyFy Channel movie you can see this deepwater denizen designed with detritus. Photo credit: Washed Ashore

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It's usually just good common sense not to combine alcohol and zoo patronage. When was the last time you read a news story about a tipsy zoo patron deciding to test the hunting prowess of a polar bear, or go swimming in the shark tank that didn't have a predictably sad ending? Well, there's a first time for everything, and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium makes a compelling case to throw caution to the wind with their first ever Brew Night at the Zoo.

Next Thursday night, zoo patrons can enjoy a sneak preview of summer, sampling adult beverages from local craft breweries and enjoying delicious appetizers from Lancer Catering, all while enjoying the zoo and aquarium's resident fauna, along with a brand new exhibit.

"With so many breweries around the South Sound, the Zoo Society wanted to offer a weeknight event that promotes local businesses and gives visitors a unique glimpse of popular zoo exhibits," said Lisa Johnson, the Zoo Society's senior development director.

As a sneak preview of sorts for Zoobilee - the Zoo Society's annual fundraising gala in July - Brew Night is also the only opportunity to see the new Washed Ashore exhibits illuminated in a unique lighting scheme made especially for this event.

A new temporary exhibit, "Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea", features ten gigantic marine life sculptures by Oregon artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi - and they're absolute garbage. No, I mean it. All of them are piles of garbage. Okay, they're actually expertly crafted sculptures made entirely from trash that people have thoughtlessly dumped in the ocean, (mostly plastic and other materials that don't break down), that the artistic team salvaged when it, well, washed ashore. By no means does this make throwing your trash into the ocean a good thing, of course, but Pozzi and her team have expertly used other people's lack of regard to create a powerful reminder of the beautiful ecosystem that so many treat so carelessly.

In keeping with the decor made of "cast away" trash, Brew Night and this year's Zoobilee feature a castaway theme, giving guests the impression that they've washed ashore on an exotic island, though zoo reps promise to keep things lighthearted and whimsical - more Gilligan's Island, less "Tom Hanks yelling at a volleyball."

Brew Night promises to be an exciting new addition to the zoo's events calendar, but it does mean the sun is setting on another zoo mainstay. Brew Night is taking the place of Zoobilee's traditional Twilight Stroll this year. If you're a longtime Zoobilee patron and just can't suffer a Twilight Stroll-less Zoobilee, get a ticket for Brew Night too. Sure, it's an extra expense, but it's a very exclusive event, and it's for a great cause.

There are only 350 spots available for Brew Night, and tickets are selling fast. Tickets are $75, though designated drivers can take advantage of a steeply discounted $30 admission. Proceeds from the event will go to support the Zoo Society's conservation and education programs.

For more information on "Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea", visit washedashore.org.

Brew Night, 6:30-9 p.m., Thursday, May 18, 21+ only, $75, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St., 253.404.3651, thezoosociety.org 

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