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Zoo Update with GLAZA Interim President Dawn Petersen-Amend – January 2024

A meerkat family inspects a white box with a painted red ribbon.
Introducing new items into the meerkat habitat helps keep them curious and interested in their environment. This enrichment is also exciting for guests around holiday times. Photo by Jamie Pham

The new year is right around the corner, and it’s bringing with it the annual opportunities to reflect on the past year, celebrate, and chart new paths for the future.

As I look back on GLAZA’s efforts and activities during 2023, there is exciting news to report! Although our first in-person Walk for the Wild (WFTW) was rained out by February’s massive storms, we held a festive celebration of our WFTW donors and registered walkers in April that lauded the 570-plus participants, $234,000 raised, and top individual and team fundraisers. In June, we held an extremely successful Beastly Ball that raised over $1.6 million to support GLAZA and the Zoo, including more than $168,000 for the newly renamed Betty White Zoo Pals, thanks to the paddle-raise and a generous contribution by longtime trustee Betty White’s estate. Summer introduced an extended nighttime ticketed event series, Zoo Friday Nights, that offered guests the opportunity to enjoy the Zoo and animals in the cooler evening hours, as well as activities such as family dance parties, food trucks, live bands, and carousel rides. This fall, Boo at the L.A. Zoo again featured generous candy donations from Mars, delighting trick or treaters on the last two weekends in October. And currently, an all-new L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow is illuminating the Zoo with colorful lantern animals and Winter Wildlands. We hope you will use your member discount to visit L.A. Zoo Lights between now and January 7 to celebrate the season, enjoy hot chocolate and s’mores, and treat your family and friends to a festive evening at the Zoo.

Looking ahead to the new year, we’re excited to introduce several new opportunities for you to enjoy all the Zoo has to offer you as a member. Beginning in February, we will host monthly weekend programming that will offer fun and engaging ways for all ages to learn about nature and wildlife. On Saturday, April 13, we’ll welcome members 21 years and older to a unique, ticketed Sip & Stroll event where guests will enjoy specialty cocktail and beer tastings as they explore the Zoo after hours. And on June 1, we will present our annual Beastly Ball, the wildest event in Los Angeles!

Of course, as a member, you’re welcome to visit the Zoo any day to breathe the fresh air, move your body, soak up the sun, and connect with the simple beauty of wildlife. Part of GLAZA’s shared mission with the Zoo is to create connections to nature, and we hope you’ll take advantage of the many upcoming opportunities to visit and enjoy this special place. As a member, there’s no pressure to see and do everything in one visit. Next time you need a quick re-set, try the Zoo as self-care. Come alone, come with family, come just to watch and listen on a bench in the sun, or come just for a churro, if that’s what you need!

All of us at GLAZA wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, filled with your favorite people, traditions, feasts, and events. We look forward to seeing you at the Zoo in the new year!

Woman in a black sweater with a blue shirt
Dawn Petersen-Amend, Interim President of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association