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Zoo Update with CEO and Director Denise M. Verret – February 2024

The Scarlet Ibis has a bright red wading with a long, grey beak.
Like a flamingo, a scarlet ibis gets its vibrant color from the food it eats. This South American stunner can range from medium orange-pink to deep cherry red. Photo by Jamie Pham

I hope this letter finds everyone in good health and high spirits and well rested following a holiday season with friends, family, and loved ones. As we embark on a new year, I am excited to share with you the wonderful initiatives and events that have unfolded at the Los Angeles Zoo, all of which are aimed at fostering inclusivity, celebrating diversity, and strengthening our ties with the vibrant communities that grace our city.

During the recent holiday event, L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow, we had the privilege of hosting two Community Nights, each designed to create a welcoming space for different segments of our diverse community. The first of these nights was dedicated to sensory-inclusive experiences, recognizing the importance of creating an atmosphere that caters to individuals who thrive in sensory-mindful environments. The evening allowed those who may find large crowds, loud music, or other triggers challenging to fully enjoy the beauty of Zoo Lights.

The second Community Night was a PRIDE event, offering a safe and inclusive haven for the LGBTQIA+ community to revel in the joy of the season. We are committed to providing an environment where everyone feels seen, accepted, and able to celebrate without reservation. Your positive feedback and engagement during these events have been heartening, and we are grateful for your support in making our Zoo an accessible and enjoyable place for everyone.

Looking ahead, we are thrilled to announce our plans for a Lunar New Year celebration in February. This event aims to embrace and honor the rich tapestry of Asian cultures that contribute to the diversity of our city. The festivities will include traditional dragon dances, martial arts performances, calligraphy art, and more. We are dedicated to creating an authentic and immersive experience that resonates with the various Asian communities who celebrate this auspicious occasion.

At the Los Angeles Zoo, our vision, mission, and values are deeply rooted in conservation and education while serving the diverse needs of all of our communities in an equitable manner. In 2024, we are committed to building upon this foundation by continuing to forge partnerships with community organizations that represent the very fabric of our city. Our goal is to ensure that the Zoo remains a place where everyone feels a sense of belonging and where the wonders of nature and wildlife are accessible to people from all walks of life.

We invite you to join us on this exciting journey as we continue to save wildlife and forge connections between people and animals. By delivering distinctive and diverse learning experiences, we aim to inspire a deeper appreciation for the world around us and cultivate a shared commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship.

Thank you for being a cherished member of the Los Angeles Zoo. Your continued support is instrumental in making our Zoo a beacon of diversity, inclusion, and education.

Wishing you a year filled with joy, discovery, and unforgettable moments at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Denise M. Verret, Zoo Director and CEO