Where can you toast a microbrew AND help protect endangered salamanders? At the National Zoo’s Suds n’ Salamanders fundraiser! Last weekend this event raised over $7,000 for our new salamander exhibit (to open in 2014), thanks to the generous support of DC’s own Hellbender Brewery. The evening was filled with salamander-themed talks, a silent auction, and, of course, delicious suds.
Aside from the exceptionally awesome name, we’re proud to partner with Hellbender Brewery because of their environmentally-friendly brewing practices, including state-of-the-art equipment that vastly reduces their water consumption. The brewery is still a few months away from opening, but salamander enthusiasts got a sneak preview of the suds to come, including their flagship kölsch beer. My personal favorite was the saison – a refreshing, summery ale that would probably be described as “girly” by hardcore Belgian beer drinkers.
Suds was organized by the zoo’s Salamander Ambassadors, a group of volunteers working to raise awareness about the incredible diversity of salamanders in the Appalachian region. Although we have more than 75 salamander species in Appalachia, these slimy, secretive amphibians spend most of their time underground. As a result, many people aren’t aware that these species are disappearing and need our help. But the ambassadors are working to change that. To date, they’ve spoken to nearly 8,000 people about the importance of salamanders and the threats facing them.
On top of that, the ambassadors are raising money for a new exhibit that will allow zoo visitors to peer into the underground world of salamanders – and become inspired to help protect these species in their natural habitat. Now that definitely deserves a toast.