Tonight's Banana Ball Fundraiser to Benefit New Primate Resource Center

Friday Nov. 18, the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary will hosts its 1st annual "Banana Ball" dinner auction to raise money for expansion and the construction of a new medical resource center.

Plans are in the works to expand the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and build a medical resource center that would benefit the community. On Friday, Nov. 18, the sanctuary will kick-off fundraising for the expansion with its 1st annual "Banana Ball".

"It's our first big venture to raise money for our medical resource center and to purchase 21 acres behind the sanctuary, across from the Pinellas Trail," said Deanna Green, who is in charge of fundraising for the non-profit facility that cares for more than 70 animals, many of whom are primates

Green says the expansion will cost $3 million; $2 million to purchase additional property and another million to build the medical resource center.

"There's nothing around this area that will even come close to that because there are currently no places for surgery and there are no exam rooms for primates, exotics and wildlife," said Green.

She says the medical resource center will have many features that would benefit the community, including-

  • Lecture Hall available for public use
  • Teaching Classrooms for veterinary students
  • Full-time veterinary clinic that will be open to the public 
  • Ecology library
  • Gift shop
  • Hurricane shelter

The project is ready to break ground with all the planning approved. Green says the contractor told them they need $50,000 to start work.

The sanctuary hopes to give the project a financial boost with the Nov. 18 tropical-themed "Banana Ball" fundraiser at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The event includes a costume ball, games, a sit-down dinner, live auction and a silent auction.

Green says dress is casual, you can come dressed in costume as a primate, or khakis and a casual shirt is fine. Tickets are $80 per person, or $140 per couple. Call (877) 476-8499 for reservations. The VIP reception begins at 5:30 p.m, the main event begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that is run by volunteers and is home to more than 70 animals including chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys, reptiles, tropical birds, and more. 

Many of the residents at the sanctuary were once personal pets that could no longer be cared for by their owners, some are retired from laboratory research or the film industry. The sanctuary provides these animals with a safe haven to live out the rest of their lives.  One of the most famous residents at the sanctuary is "Cheetah" who appeared in Tarzan movies.

The sanctuary also uses a variety of hands-on educational programs to bring awareness to the public about exotic animals as pets and what can be done to help them.

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary is located at 4600 US Highway 19 in Palm Harbor (727) 943-5897. 

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