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How does an educational outreach and rescue organization keep going day after day? By having fun! And also raising funds. Jessi shares the most recent adventure in fundraising at Animal Wonders' annual event, Bowling For Animals. How many familiar faces can you spot?

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Jessi: Welcome back to Animal Wonders, I'm Jessi!  For the last couple of months, we've been preparing for our big annual event.  It's called Bowling for Animals, and I want to share what goes into that and what it's all about.

(Bowling montage)

As you might know, Animal Wonders is a non-profit, and it takes a lot of funding to care for all of our animals.  Take Lokita, the Chinese Water Dragon.  To rescue her, it took several hundred dollars just for her initial set-up, not to mention her lifelong care.  So to continue caring for the animals that we have and rescuing new ones, we have to get a little creative in our fundraising.  The primary way that we get our funding is by the fee that we charge for educational programs.  The next place we go to is actually our Patreon page, we get a lot of donations from you, the viewers.  We also get straight up private donations and lastly, we have creative fundraising events like Bowling for Animals.

Bowling for Animals is our annual fundraiser.  We've been doing it for five years now and it's where we invite our local community to come to a bowling alley and just enjoy a fun night of meeting the animals and going bowling.  We also have a silent auction and raffle, where local businesses have donated items to just help raise more funds for the animals.  We also contribute to our silent auction and raffle by doing animal related things, sometimes made by the animals, like our animal paintings. 

Our goal with Bowling for Animals is to not only raise funds for the animals, but also to engage the local community.  We bring the animals out to share with them, and they get a great deal.  They're giving us a small ticket fee for an event t-shirt, bowling all night, meeting the animals, and also our silent auction.  Not only is it great for Animal Wonders, but it's also a really fun way for the community to meet and support the animals. 

So I mention that we've been preparing for this for several months.  The first thing we have to do is secure the venue and the date.  Then we have to find sponsors for the event that are gonna help cover the t-shirt, which we get designed, and we have a new event t-shirt each year.  Then comes gathering all the donations from the silent auction, which is super fun.  It's so hard to ask people for things, and you go in there all nervous, but then you, you do it, you ask for it because it's for the animals, and when they say yes, you just feel so giddy and it's so fun, so it's the hardest part, but also the most rewarding part.  Next is marketing the event, which takes a lot of skill to market things.  You have to contact the news stations and the newspapers and then do social media, which you guys have probably been hearing about it.  And the last thing that happens is the day of, which is today, today today.  Which means gathering everything up, including the animals, and heading to the venue. 

We try and feature a different animal each year, just to keep it exciting but also to make sure we highlight different animals and what makes them amazing and unique.  Choosing an animal for a bowling alley can be difficult, so we want to make sure that the animal is always going to be comfortable and we're not gonna choose someone like Kemosabe who doesn't really like loud noises.  This year we've chosen to feature Gaia the three-banded armadillo.  She's been an ambassador for almost a year, and in the last couple months, she's really come out of her shell.  She is so social and she just really enjoys getting out and adventuring, plus it's going to be at night, so she's going to be naturally active and curious.  We'll also bring a few other animals that are going to be cool and collected in the bowling alley.

We've been doing Bowling for Animals for five years now, and I really didn't have an idea how to throw a fundraising event before I started, but it's something that I needed to learn how to do, because that's part of the necessity of caring for animals is figuring out how to support them.  So thank you for letting me share another part of what we do at Animal Wonders, and if you have any suggestions for creative fundraising events, let me know in the comments, or you can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  Thanks, guys.

(Endscreen plays)

Jessi: That was such a fun night!  I got peed on, I got clawed up, and I got hair all over me, which always means it's amazing. 

Augusto: I want to thank all our volunteers and family members that helped make all this possible, and for all you guys behind the camera, too.

Jessi: Thank you guys!