The social scene at Charlie's Third Annual Liger Luau included a mixture of humans, lemurs, foxes, a sloth and more on June 17 at Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary.
"It's a wonderful event — animals and people here all together," said Kay Rosaire, who founded the sanctuary in 1987. "We're very much in favor of the human-animal bond, and this is just as great way to put it out there."
Amid a scene of vibrant Pacific-style decor, the fundraising event also offered energetic performances by Echo of the South Pacific, a Tampa Bay-area Polynesian entertainment group; a specialty drinks and beverage bar; a silent auction; raffles, and a performance by That Bald DJ.
As with past years, food was provided by Charlie Haney, owner of Rodizio Grill and Butcher's Mark, and cooked by Perry's Original Roadside BBQ, with this year's event named in Haney's honor due to his culinary contributions all three years.
Attendees said they enjoyed supporting the rescue while also experiencing the event scene.
"It's wonderful," said Michele Edgerley, a neighbor of Haney who said she and her husband Lee Edgerley invited as many of their other neighbors as they could. "All our neighbors get together to support Big Cat Habitat, which is such a wonderful cause. They did a great job — really well done."
"I'm here for just about everything," said Max Strong, a volunteer with the organization. "Definitely, fundraising is important for sure. It allows us to do what we do. … I think it's important to keep the human animal bond alive, and they do a good job of it here."
The event was also a chance for humans of all ages to come together, Rosaire said.
"It's open to the whole family, so it's a lot of fun."