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Over 750 guests sampled from 20 local beers, wines and cider while walking through the Lincoln Children’s Zoo’s two-year, $20 million expansion Saturday, June 22, at the first of three Brews at the Zoo fundraisers planned for this summer.

Attendees ate brats, burgers and Valentino’s pizza as they listened to live music by local band Loose Affiliation. The entire zoo grounds were open for guests to experience -- including the largest expansion in the zoo’s 50-plus-year history.

The Love Your Zoo campaign has raised over $23 million to fund the project, which includes high-tech homes for 250-pound Sumatran tigers, towering giraffes and critically endangered spider monkeys. The expansion also includes a new entrance and gift shop, new Education and Conservation Center, and a 72-foot outdoor splash stream with a 13-by-30-foot sandhill cranes sculpture created by artist Cliff Hollestelle.

Construction continues on phase two of the renovation.

“Next year, we’ll have cheetahs and anteaters,” John Chapo, zoo president and CEO, promised the crowd from the stage at the sold-out Brews at the Zoo event, which raised $25,000.

“We thank the Lincoln community for all of their support, and for making Brews at the Zoo a great fundraising event, which empowers us to provide the highest quality of animal care and an awesome place for children to learn firsthand,” Chapo added.

If you missed the June 22 and July 13 events, you have one more opportunity to experience Brews at the Zoo: on Saturday, Aug. 10. Tickets can be purchased at lincolnzoo.org. A $10 off coupon is available at Valentino’s and U-Stop locations.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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