Valentine’s Day event to support wildlife center

A few animal lovers in Shelby County hope to see your wild side on Valentine’s Day at the Alabama Wildlife Center’s fifth–annual Wild About Chocolate Valentine Gala.

“The money from the Wild About Chocolate event is crucial for what we do, especially during the 2009 baby season,” said development assistant Janet Byars. “We really hope that people come enjoy themselves and learn a little more about why what we do is so important.”

What the wildlife center does is rehabilitate and care for animals that have been injured or separated from their nests. The baby season, which has technically already begun, brings around 1,000 animals through the center, according to Sandra Allinson, director of rehabilitation and education.

“The money will enable us to provide medical care, appropriate diets and nutrition, and the housing they need while they are in captivity waiting to be released back into the wild,” Allinson said.

The center currently cares for about 100 animals. Some of those animals include four striped skunks, six barn owls and about a dozen baby squirrels. Allinson said they expect to see about 900 baby songbirds in the shelter by the end of the summer.

“Animals like these require a lot of manpower. The song birds have to be fed every half hour for at least 12 hours a day,” Allinson said. “We are already very dependent on volunteers but during this time of year we have to hire additional staff, which puts a real strain on our budget.”

To help offset those costs, the event will include a silent auction for sought after items like footballs signed by Nick Saban and Tommy Tuberville, a tour and tasting at the Cooking Light test kitchen and even a trip to the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. at Workplay in downtown Birmingham and promises to be a night of fun and philanthropy. Wild About Chocolate will feature desserts and savory treats from almost 20 of Birmingham’s best restaurants, bakeries and caterers. Guests are invited to sample a wide variety of chocolate concoctions, dance to the music of Friends In Jazz, bid on silent auction items, and participate in a raffle for a Caribbean island getaway to St. Bart’s.

Restaurants and caterers included are All Around Town Catering, Bean Hole Coffee Shop, Full Moon BBQ, Bottega, Restaurant, Hot and Hot Fish Club, City Hall Diner, J. Clyde, Crave Chocolatiers, Louise’s Cakes & Things, Fish Market Restaurant, Ocean/26, Five Star Catering, Pastry Art Bake Shoppe, Franklin’s Homewood Gourmet and Standard Bistro.

Tickets are $75 when purchased in advance, and $100 at the door. To order tickets, call 663–7930.