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3rd annual OktoBEARfest held at Zoo Idaho

Saturday afternoon, Zoo Idaho gave people the chance to enjoy Oktoberfest activities with furry friends.

Dozens gathered for OktoBEARfest, a 21 and over event that raises funds to get the animals into better habitats.

“These guys need a more natural habitat to be living in and these fundraisers are helping build that new habitat,” ZIZS board member Jennifer Erchul said.

For the third year, the rescue zoo welcomed in a drinking-age crowd for one of its few events not aimed at families.

“Bring in some beer, let the parents experience the zoo when they’re not being pulled in seven different directions with their toddlers, and let them just kind of wander around and see it through their eyes,” Erchul explained.

The funds from the past two events have gone towards funding the wetlands and birds exhibits, among other things. And this year’s fest is focused on the black bears.

“You can see the exhibit needs a little bit of work,” Erchul said. “It hasn’t been updated for decades.”

With a variety of different animals and 30 types of beer, the zoo has been able to pull in hundreds of people and raise nearly $20,000 over the course of the year.

But Erchel says they will need closer to $500,000 in order to expand the black bear habitat and build a new entrance.

“We will take anything,” she said. “We’ll take memberships, sponsorships, animal adoptions. There’s so many ways people can support Zoo Idaho.”

On Saturday, that support flowed through beer.

“What we’ve found is that people will typically take one lap around, they’ll do the beer tasting, they’ll check out the animals and then they’ll go back to either their favorite animal or their favorite beer.”

So whichever beer or bear tickled your fancy, you were making a difference.

“That’s the biggest part of it,” Erchul added.


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