Great Gobi Games 2012

Cheer on your champions as the Snow Leopard Trust hosts the Great Gobi Games

Saturday October 6, 2012
5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Woodland Park Zoo
North Entrance (gate closes at 6:30 pm) *Note change from previous years
601 North 59th Street
Seattle, WA 98103

Join us for a festival honoring the bravery, endurance, and strength of the snow leopard.

Cheer for your champions in an experience inspired by a traditional Mongolian festival. We will present events celebrating Mongolia’s “Three Kingly Sports” of archery, wrestling and horseracing (without the actual horses.)

Enjoy great music and an open air bazaar, then take a short trek to admire the snow leopards and meet the zoo’s new cubs. A three-course dinner will be awaiting you after the festival in the Rain Forest Pavilion.

Dress for the weather in casual or themed attire

Tickets cost $150. This festive evening will raise vital funds for snow leopard conservation throughout Asia. All proceeds benefit the Snow Leopard Trust.

For more information, to reserve your ticket, or specify your meal choice (beef, vegetable or fish) contact Antonia at 206-632-2421 or

Featured Auction Items

Antique Drum

Mongolian tent

Antique Drum: Find your rhythm on this gorgeous instrument, crafted in Mongolia more than 100 years ago, and used by Buddhist monks during prayer.

Gorgeous Mongolian Tent: Take your guests straight to Central Asia, and have your next party in a real Mongolian tent! Stands 13 feet by 17 feet, yet packs up into a compact little bag for storage.

Ultimate Snow Leopard Adoption: Name the next snow leopard in our long-term study!

The Three Kingly Games

During our Gobi Games event, we’ll be featuring three ‘kingly games’ practiced annually as part of the Mongolian festival known as Nadaam. The root of the word Naadam in Mongolian comes from verb to play and have fun. The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery, and they are held throughout the country. The history of the games began centuries ago at the time of Hun Empire. Today the holiday has became a regular national event as people from all over the county come together to show they physical strengths.

Photo by Paulo Fassina

Horse racing: At a Naadam Festival the most impressive spectacle is often the horse races. The horses cover different distances according to their age. There are no limits on the number of horses participating; usually 200-600 horses in each race. The five winning horses are honored with a cup of mare’s milk poured on their neck, a blue scarf, and a medal. Horses that finishes last of each race are given the title “Bayan khodood” (full stomach), in hope that they may be more successful next year.

Photo by Scott Presly

Photo by Michel Heinige

Wrestling: Normally, 512 wrestlers fight in the stadium for the prestigious title “State Titan”. Both the “Titan” himself and the trainers have the opportunity to choose partners during the first few rounds, thus reducing the number of less experienced wrestlers early on and creating more excitement for the final matches at the second day. The rules are very simple: The wrestling area is unrestricted; there are no weight-classes and the one who touches the ground to any part of the body, other than the feet, loses.

At the beginning of the third, fifth and seventh rounds of the match, the trainers sing praises to the wrestlers of their group, and of the titles that they have previously won. The winning wrestler imitates the flight of an eagle, swinging his arms around and touches the muscles of his legs with his hands. The loser has to stand under the wings of the proud winner.

Archery: Mongols are almost born with archery skills, an integral part of nomadic lifestyle. From childhood such qualities as perfect eyesight, measurement, patience and strength are fostered to develop a good archer. Mongolian bows are very tight and require great strength to stretch out. As a rule, several teams of archers compete. Each team of 5-7 archers should hit 33 leather cylinders from a distance of 75 meters. During the tournament, judges stand on two sides next to the target. Each time, an archer prepares for a shot; they start slowly singing a song called Uukhai. As soon as the arrow hits the target, the song’s melody changes and an experienced archer immediately learns about how many cylinders were hit.