Beastly Ball raises nearly $1.2 million for Los Angeles Zoo's conservation and sustainability programs
More than 800 guests gathered at The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association’s (GLAZA) annual BEASTLY BALL to raise nearly $1.2 million for the organization’s mission, which advocates for animal conservation and habitat preservation for some of the world’s most rare and vulnerable species, including the California condor, mountain yellow-legged frogs, and peninsular pronghorn.
The star-studded event brought together celebrities, industry executives, city officials, and zoo supporters for a wild night of food, fun, and fundraising.
Dodger great Al Ferrara joined auctioneer Billy Harris to kick off the live auction with the first item up for bid being the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at an L.A. Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium. The star power continued onstage when “This is Us” actor Melanie Liburd joined Harris for a rousing bidding on a private dinner with herself and “This is Us” costar Chris Sullivan that included a multi-course meal for ten guests prepared by Chef Walter Manzke of République; Chef Antonia Lofaso of Black Market Liquor Bar and Scopa Italian Roots; and Chef Bruce Kalman of Union, The Misfit and The Churchill.
Other live auction items included an extraordinary 10-day journey on National Geographic’s Endeavour II to the Galápagos Islands; a field mission to reintroduce critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs to protected native habitats in the San Gabriel Mountains, followed by a private dinner at the Zoo’s LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles) exhibit; an Ultimate Sports Package with curated experiences and premium tickets to all the major area sports teams. Hundreds of other exclusive and unique opportunities were available to guests and online bidders through the Ball’s silent auction.
Setting the mood
Beastly Ball guests, dressed in “safari casual” attire, started their evening stroll in the Zoo’s Australia section where Zoo inhabitants welcomed them, including the Tasmanian devil, western grey kangaroo, and cassowary, along with keeper talks, entertainment, beverages and tasty bites to whet their palate for the adventure to come.
Among the 20 animals showcased during the evening were the Komodo dragon, western lowland gorillas, lanner falcon, North American and African crested porcupines, indigo snake, tamandua, and an interactive feeding of the greater flamingo flock. Roaming entertainers and up-close animal encounters delighted guests along the party route as well as dining stations from 15 eateries and beverages provided by local wine and artisanal spirit purveyors. The event culminated with an inspiring program focused on the event’s honorees, followed by a live auction featuring priceless, one-of-a-kind experiences.
Among the iconic restaurants donating their services for dinner were 1933 Group’s Sassafras Saloon & Idle Hour, Bottlefish, Celestino Ristorante, Cocinas y Calaveras, Delicious Arts, El Cholo The Original, El Coyote Mexican Café, The Federal Bar, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, La Casita Mexicana, Momed, Pink's Famous Hot Dogs, Simmzy's Burbank, Smoke House Restaurant, TAIX French Restaurant, and Taste of The Wild Catering at the Los Angeles Zoo. Full bars were available with intimate tastings provided by Nectar of the Dogs Wine, Paquera Mezcal, Taste It Wines, WhistlePig Rye Whiskey, and Michelob Ultra. TV food personality Duff Goldman from Food Network’s hit show Ace of Cakes was the Ball’s first- ever Curator of Desserts, helping to create a sweet ending to an epic night.
Champions of change
This year’s fundraiser honored legendary oceanographer, explorer, and author Dr. Sylvia Earle, who has dedicated her life to protecting the ocean and its wildlife and has been dubbed “Her Deepness” by The New Yorker; first-ever Conservation Hero Award recipient Glen Curado, founder and CEO of the World Harvest Charities and Family Services; and recently retired GLAZA President Connie Morgan for her 16 years of dedication and service to the Los Angeles Zoo.
GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles, with more than 55,000 member households representing more than 210,000 adults and children. The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which draws more than 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,400 animals representing 270 different species, 58 of which are endangered. Its lush grounds on 133 acres feature a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants.