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Virtual Otter Ball raises $80,000 for Virginia Living Museum

The Virginia Living Museum shifted its Otter Ball online to protect patrons from COVID-19 - and still raised about $80,000 for museum operations and animal care.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Virginia Living Museum shifted its Otter Ball online this year to protect patrons from the possible spread of COVID-19 - and according to a Monday release, still raised about $80,000 for museum operations and animal care.

About 5,300 people watched the live stream, which offered musical performances by the local jazz band Good Shot Judy, animal experiences and an auction.

The museum opened its doors to the public on June 6 as part of phase two of Virginia's reopening plan, but had been seeking community donations to account for the financial strain of the months it was closed. 

Even without visitors, museum staff needed to continue caring for its living animals and plants.

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"The Otter Ball Conservation Fundraiser is the leading contributor to the Museum's conservation mission," wrote a spokesperson. "This support enables the Museum to sustain and strengthen local, regional and national conservation projects."

You can catch a recording of the Otter Ball on the Virginia Living Museum's Facebook Page.

The ball also honored Randy and Carol Abbitt, who received the Golden Paw Award for community service and leadership. It's the museum's highest honor.

Randy is on the museum's Board of Trustees as an advisor, and helped spearhead the annual James River Striped Bass Tournament that benefits the museum. 

The museum's statement said the couple's company, National Exterminating, has extended the family's tradition of philanthropy.

Rebecca Kleinhample, the executive director of the Virginia Living Museum, thanked the Abbitts for their support of its sustainable programming.

“Randy and Carol’s personal and professional leadership is inspiring," she wrote. "They model the phrase 'do what you love' and the Virginia Living Museum is stronger because of them."

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