Flashback to October 2023: Zoo To Do 2023 Adventure Awaits Patron Party Featured Award-Winning Photography, a Fiery Welcome by the Pool, and More

(Featured photo: Shawna Hinkel, hostess and award-winning photographer with a photo from her “Almost Human” series.)

The Zoo To Do 2023 Adventure Awaits Patron Party was generously hosted by Shawna and Josh Hinkel in their lovely Preston Hollow home. The event featured a fiery welcome by the pool, award-winning portraits of Dallas Zoo animals from hostess Shawna Hinkel’s “Almost Human” photographic series, and live animals mingling with the crowd courtesy of the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventures Outreach program.

Steven J. Roth, Zoo To Do co-chair; Lyda Hill, Honorary Chair; Thai-Ian Tran, Zoo To Do co-chair; Sean Greene, Executive Vice President of Park Operations and Chief Operating Officer

It was a lovely, cool evening as the sun set, while Zoo To Do chairs Steven J. Roth and Thai-lan Tran welcomed guests as they gathered outside by the pool, which was accented with colorful floating orbs dancing on the surface and flanked with gas-lit fiery columns.

Noshing on hors d’oeuvres provided by Stock & Barrel, the buzz was all about Shawna’s fabulous award-winning photographs and Zoo To Do. This wild event is a major source of funding for the nonprofit Dallas Zoo, bringing in more than $1 million each year* to help support the Zoo’s dedication to provide the best animal care, deliver unique education offerings, and strengthen its wildlife conservation efforts.

Sean Greene, Executive Vice President of Park Operations and Chief Operating Officer, welcomed guests, saying that Zoo To Do is the best party in town and, “Where else can you hear an elephant trumpeting in the background and feed the giraffes.” He said the Dallas Zoo is all about creating a better world for the animals and with an engaged community, like the 10,000 visitors they had over a recent weekend, there is a bright future for the Zoo.

Harrison Edell, Executive Vice President of Animal Care and Conservation and Chief Mission Officer, thanked the Hinkels for hosting the evening’s event. He thanked guests for supporting the Zoo and explained that their support is impactful on the Zoo’s strategic conservation work, like the incredibly important work being done around wild releases. He also said that it is wonderful to see the school buses full of children coming to the Zoo, who grow up to be informed and educated adults and support the Zoo.

Greg and Kim Hext, Claudia Lode, Preston Hext 

Steven and Thai-lan thanked The Eugene McDermott Foundation as presenting sponsors and honorary chair, Lyda Hill. They announced there are 33 restaurants and chefs to-date who are participating in Zoo To Do. Thai-lan said they are having a wonderful time as chairs and getting to know more friends and supporters of the Zoo. 

Lyda said that the theme Adventure Awaits resonates with her as she has witnessed firsthand the dedication and passion of the Dallas Zoo and is proud to stand beside them as everyone works towards a future where adventure and conservation go hand in hand. Delighted to see so many familiar faces and new friends gathered at this event, she said everyone is united by a common passion, the mission of the Dallas Zoo, Engaging People & Saving Wildlife.

Josh and Shawna thanked the crowd for their support and said Zoo To Do is one of their favorite events of the year. Shawna said the goal of her photo series is to capture the human side of primates, a unique perspective which she has been working on for 12 years. After presentations were concluded, she gave a few of her photographs to lucky door prize winners in the crowd.     

Rhaelyn Carter, Vice President of Advancement at the Dallas Zoo, reminded everyone of a few of the live auction items, including a trip to Mexico City for the migration of the butterflies. Then everyone toasted to the success of Zoo To Do!

Committee members include Advisory Committee chairs, Diane Brierley, Marena Gault, Cindy Gummer and Kim Hext; Underwriting Committee chairs Alex Arellano and Ryan Gummer; Live Auction Committee chairs Diane and Hal Brierley, Grace Cook and Mary McDermott Cook; Big Board chair, Cindy Gummer; Silent Auction Committee chair, Chuck Steelman; Raffle Committee chairs Claudia Lode and Preston Hext; Wine Guys, Greg Hext, Preston Hext, Matthew Meadows and Michael Meadows; Honorary Chef Dan Landsberg; Chef Wrangler, Brett Krafft ;and Chef Recruiter, Jimmy Contreras.

Zoo To Do sponsors included American Airlines, official Zoo To Do Airline; Truist Bank, Valet sponsor; Sewell Automotive Group, Transportation sponsor; My Sweet Charity, Online Media sponsor; PaperCity, Magazine Media sponsor; SSA Group, Chef sponsor; and Bachendorf’s, Host Committee Reception sponsor.   

Visit the website for more details at DallasZoo.com/ZooToDo and be sure to follow the event’s new Instagram account @dallaszootodo.

The Scene

About the Dallas Zoo: The Dallas Zoo is dedicated to Creating a Better World for Animals. Named one of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos by USA Today, it is the largest zoological experience in Texas. The zoo has been accredited continuously by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums since 1985, and features a 106- acre park, more than 2,000 animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis) and is open seven days a week (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. currently), 364 days a year. For more information, visit DallasZoo.com or call 469.554.7500.

Photos by Rob Wythe/Wythe Portrait Studio

* Check back for more announcements and photos from the 2023 Zoo To Do Adventure Awaits which happened on November 4, 2023.

(Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, is honored to represent the Dallas Zoo To Do and post this Philanthropy Lifestyles Scene.)


Principal of Philanthropy Lifestyles (formerly SocialWhirl.com), the award-winning eBuzzNewsletter and Adams Communications Public Relations, a boutique PR firm specializing in media and community relations for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Sharon is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Dallas Business Journal, Katy Trail Weekly, People Newspapers (Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People/North Dallas People), Preston Hollow Life magazine, The Park Cities News, White Rock Lake Weekly, numerous blogs and websites and more.