L.A. Zoo's Beastly Ball Garners Support for Wildlife Conservation

Nancy Wilson, Jack Hanna, Connie Morgan and Liv Warfield - Beastly Ball - Getty - H 2018
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

The keepers of the Los Angeles Zoo ambled around holding animals including birds of prey, snakes and rabbits to demonstrate the importance of wildlife conservation through personal interaction.

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association hosted the 51st annual Beastly Ball on Saturday (also National Endangered Species Day) to raise funds for the Los Angeles Zoo’s goal of wildlife conservation, with guests such as Slash, Nancy Wilson and Jack Hanna in attendance.

The ball raised more than $1.52 million to support the local and global preservation efforts of the zoo, which is home to more than 60 endangered species, including snow leopards, Sumatran tigers, lemurs and ocelots. The event featured an after-hours stroll through the grounds with animal feedings; chats with zoo keepers; and personal interaction with some of the less dangerous animals like the domestic rabbit, flamingo and snake.

The zoo was divided into five sections based on world geography, and guests got to experience the cuisine and learn about the wildlife from disparate locations. Visitors were also able to witness the more dangerous animals such as the jaguar, Asian elephant and Central American tapir do some dining of their own.

The ball featured numerous food stalls with restaurants such as Smoke House, Bottlefish and the zoo’s own Taste of the Wild dishing up fare that included albacore tostadas, lobster corn dogs and more. As guests moved through the five sections of the zoo, they were also able to participate in two silent auctions. Some of the items included a Guns 'n’ Roses signed guitar, Dodger Stadium baseline tickets and Los Angeles Clippers floor seats.

A concert for conservation, headlined by rock icon Slash and rock group Roadcase Royale’s Wilson and Liv Warfield, capped the evening. The entertainment also featured performances by guitarist Robert Randolph and the L.A. All-Star Band.

The night's main event was the presenting of the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award, which recognizes people in the entertainment industry who show leadership in local or global wildlife and environmental conservation. This year’s honoree was Hanna, animal conservationist and the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio. Hanna was responsible for transitioning the zoo from cagelike enclosures to habitat environments; he has been appearing on talk shows like Good Morning America, The Late Show With David Letterman, Ellen and more since 1983.

Hanna said he tries to educate people about wildlife conservation because of his love for animals. “The L.A. Zoo and I believe in the same motto: touch the heart and teach the mind,” he said. “In other words, we aim to inspire people to love animals so that they care enough to save them.”