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Wonder Gardens 2022 Enchanted Gala raises more than $225,000

The Sixth Annual Enchanted Gala: A Colorful Evening of Wonder on Feb. 17 raised more than $225,000, far exceeding the last fundraiser. As part of the total, more than $170,000 was raised for an Animal Care Center to include a commissary and veterinary care space, a major step needed to achieve professional zoological accreditation.

“We are so grateful for community support of the gardens and plans to continue to enhance the property and experiences,” said David Rahahe:tih Webb, president and CEO. “This step toward professional accreditation includes updating our operations and will ensure quality, best practices and access to funding and species survival programs, such as the American flamingo breeding program.”

At the colorful event at the Wonder Gardens, guests strolled the gardens, enjoyed custom cocktails by Chartreuse and hors d’oeuvres and dinner by Crave Culinaire. The sold-out event was held under a tent in the colorfully lit gardens with roaming exotic birds and included live music, entertainment, a silent and live auction.

The event included remarks by Bonita Springs Mayor Rick Steinmeyer, who praised the partnership between the city, which owns the property, and the Wonder Gardens, which runs the attraction.

The Wonder Gardens does not receive taxpayer funding or support. Improvements, maintenance, staff and animal care are paid for by admissions, memberships and donations. The pandemic forced Wonder Gardens to close for six months, canceling school field trips and outreach, summer camps and special fundraising events, causing a serious loss in revenue. Still the gardens experienced a record number of guests.

Sponsors included Billy the Bee Foundation, FineMark National Bank & Trust, Presstige Printing, Jacke McCurdy, Chartreuse, Marjorie Rubacky, Amoré Jewelers, Bonita Boarding Kennels & Pet Camp, Brennan, Manna & Diamond, PL and Ewing & Associates.

Members of the Enchanted committee included Kim Beckett, Debi Braendle, Linda Gutshall, Sally Hebeisen, Natascha Kay, Candice Kelber, Jacke McCurdy, Nancy Soldi Peckham, Marjorie Rubacky and Diane Torrisi.

About Wonder Gardens

The Wonder Gardens, a charitable zoological park and botanical garden in Bonita Springs, is home to rescued birds and reptiles nestled among sprawling banyan trees and plantings. While preserving the best of this site’s 85-year history, the non-profit cares for more than 300 resident animals, is upgrading wildlife enclosures and growing the botanical beauty of the property, while delivering education programs and events and further engaging the community to enjoy this jewel in historic Downtown Bonita Springs. The Wonder Gardens at 27180 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs is one of the few remaining cornerstones of Old Florida, an enduring symbol of the history of the region, as well as a resource for learning about the environment and wildlife. For information, visit wondergardens.org or call 239-992-2591.

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