This year’s Beastly Ball was my second in-person GLAZA gala, and after almost four years at the Zoo, it felt even more like a party for long-time friends. At every restaurant station, in front of each animal habitat, while gathered around auction items, and on the dance floor, I had the joy of greeting people passionate about animals and wildlife conservation. It moved me to spend an evening with people who care so deeply about our Zoo. However, I did say goodbye to an old friend this year: this Ball was my first one without my beloved Beastly Ball shirt. The shirt (pictured below) was bid on with fanfare in the silent auction and won by Trustee Rob Ellis, so our parting was for a good cause.
In all seriousness, the Beastly Ball is always an emotional experience, but the 2023 Ball was even more heartfelt than usual. Honoring beloved Trustee Diann Kim and the late Councilmember Tom LaBonge on June 3 meant so much to everyone in the Zoo family!
Diann was honored for her many years of leadership on our Board of Trustees, and Tom was our Betty White Conservation Hero, a champion of the environment in his successful effort to add 500 acres to Griffith Park. Betty was also with us in spirit, because her estate made a challenge gift to rename the Zoo’s signature program for school visitors to Betty White’s Zoo Pals.
Many of our members attended the Beastly Ball in person or made gifts or purchases through the silent auction, and together we set a record. At more than $1.6 million raised, the Beastly Ball exceeded its goal by over $250, 000 (and gifts are still coming in). The paddle raise for Betty White’s Zoo Pals was historic, with more than $225, 000 to bring the Zoo to Los Angeles schoolchildren and Los Angeles schoolchildren to the Zoo. Thank you to everyone for your generosity in supporting GLAZA and the Zoo!
We are still confirming all the figures for the fiscal year that ends June 30, but we already know our members and donors have been especially philanthropic in the last twelve months, including special gifts and grants for veterinary equipment, new technology to fight wildlife trafficking at LAX, and a grant fund to underwrite off-site training for Zoo staff. And our membership has grown as we recover from the pandemic, with over 43,000 households. We look forward to honoring and thanking you during Member Appreciation Month in August with special perks just for you, including daily branded giveaways, BOGO treat coupons, and an additional 10% off (total 20% off) in the International Marketplace.
You will soon see many wonderful changes at the Zoo, thanks to our members and philanthropic community. Come visit this summer for the return of giraffe feedings, Muriel’s Ranch, and the World of Birds Show, and so we can celebrate you for helping the Zoo provide the best possible care for our animal residents and save species in the wild from extinction.