Welcome to the Jungle: Slash to Rock the L.A. Zoo at 50th Anniversary Gala

Courtesy of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association
L.A. Zoo board members Betty White and Slash with a reptilian friend.

The Hollywood institution that was once gifted two kangaroos by Alfred Hitchcock is going a little wild over its half-century birthday.

Rich in Hollywood history, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens will celebrate its half-century milestone at its annual Beastly Ball fundraiser this Saturday.

Lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and zoo board member Slash will headline the fundraiser to benefit a new conservation program.

Hollywood figures have long contributed to the zoo’s growth through donations and participation in the annual fundraiser. The late Cary Grant was fundamental in getting the zoo off the ground in its earliest stages, laying out its groundwork in the early 1960s and helping create the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA).

Longtime zoo supporter Betty White was one of the first L.A. Zoo commissioners and is currently on the GLAZA board. And Jimmy Stewart was a supporter and regular attendee at its fundraisers until his death in 1997.

Animals have been gifted to the zoo by figures such as Alfred Hitchcock, who helped the zoo acquire two kangaroos; Mae West, who donated two woolly monkeys; Bob Hope, who purchased a collection of rare Sudanese birds for the zoo; and William Holden, who donated two African Antelopes to the zoo in 1969.

The lead gift for the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel at the zoo was donated by A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss and features music by several A&M artists. 

The zoo is also a hotspot for filming and is seen in the opening credits of Three’s Company, as well as in scenes from the shows The Fugitive and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In recent years, the zoo has partnered on projects with film studios like Fox, The Walt Disney Company and Paramount Pictures. Animators from Disney’s original The Lion King frequented the zoo for inspiration in creating the movie’s animals.

Los Angeles will continue to celebrate the zoo and its history at the annual Beastly Ball on Saturday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m., where guests will be able to roam free in the zoo after-hours.