Fundraising Efforts Take Zoo to Mt. Rainier

IN THE LEAD: Trent Veppert of the Tulsa Zoo leads the six-member climbing team in the final quest for the summit of Mount Rainier. The ascent in good weather was a successful fundraiser for the One Wild Challenge campaign.

Courtesy Tulsa Zoo

One Wild Challenge, Tulsa Zoo’s newest fundraising effort, was a great success. This first-year event took place August 1 – 3 and yielded more than $25,000. The new fundraising event is just one of many initiatives benefiting the $6.5 million capital campaign: “Growing Wild!”

The One Wild Challenge fundraiser included six team members who climbed Mount Rainier, an elevation of 14,410 feet, to support the zoo’s cause. Each member was asked to raise $5,000 from friends and colleagues to benefit the new California sea lion exhibit—a $2.5 million zoo development funded by the “Growing Wild!” capital campaign.

Team members included Keegan Young, Executive Director, Tulsa Zoo Friends; Marnie Ducato, V.P. of Communications, Rex Public Relations; Tom Harrison, Systems Administrator, Target Pharmacies; Phil Lakin, Jr., Executive Director, Tulsa Community Foundation; Trent Veppert, Large Mammal Keeper, Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum; and Jeff Beasley, CEO, Straxis Technology.

The trip consisted of one day of climbing school in which experts from Rainier Mountaineering Inc. instructed the team on glacier traversing, cramponing, roped travel, ice axe techniques and pressure breathing. The other two days consisted of ascending and descending Mount Rainier. With a 14,000-plus foot elevation, and an extensively glaciated volcanic peak, the Tulsa team had to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the challenge. During the first stage of the climb, the team members hiked nearly four and one-half miles and ascended approximately 5,000 feet to Camp Muir where they camped overnight. Early the next morning around midnight, the group attempted the final ascend to the summit of Mount Rainier. Young, Lakin and Veppert reached the summit on Thursday, August 3 at 7 a.m. Though the trip back down the mountain is very swift and more dangerous than the climb, the entire group made it down with good health the same night.

After the climb, the six team members spent time in Seattle visiting the Woodland Park Zoo’s sea lion exhibit. For data concerning the route and guide service, visit

Updated 08-24-2006

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