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The Beastly Ball fundraising gala returns with host Joel McHale on Saturday, June 3, at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Honorees include the late City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, known to many as “Mr. Los Angeles,” who will be recognized posthumously with the Betty White Conservation Hero Award for his unwavering support of the L.A. Zoo and surrounding Griffith Park. Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association trustee Diann H. Kim, who has dedicated the last 12 years to helping shape the future of the zoo, will also be honored at the Beastly Ball.
McHale will serve as master of ceremonies for the evening of fun and philanthropy in support of the zoo and GLAZA’s shared mission to save species and connect people with nature. The progressive party starts “Down Under” in the Australia section and makes its way through the zoo’s lush grounds, with guests sampling regional and global cuisine from popular L.A. restaurants including Pink’s Hot Dogs, Little Sister, Momed, Yakumi, Luminaries, El Cholo The Original and many others while sipping libations from Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Company, WhistlePig Whiskey Co. and Lalo Spirits. Partygoers will learn firsthand about the zoo’s animals and conservation efforts through animal keeper chats and feeding sessions and enjoy live performances and music. A silent auction raises funds for conservation efforts and zoo programs. The after-hours stroll culminates at the zoo’s Treetops Terrace with the evening’s program, as well dancing, drinks and desserts by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Milk Jar Cookies, John Kelly Chocolates and Krispy Kreme.
LaBonge’s many contributions include leading the effort to bring Reggie the alligator to the zoo after it was captured in Harbor City’s Lake Machado, building institutional support for the Elephants of Asia habitat, and playing a pivotal role in the creation of L.A. Zoo Lights, now an annual tradition. During LaBonge’s tenure, he also expanded Griffith Park by 500 acres, helping preserve wildlife habitat. LaBonge was introduced to the L.A. Zoo as a young child growing up in Silver Lake, and it ignited a passion for animals that continued throughout his 40-year career with the city of Los Angeles. He used his larger-than-life personality to bring attention to the L.A. Zoo and its importance as a community resource.
“Tom represented the great 4th Council District, which includes the zoo, for 14 years,” CEO and zoo director Denise M. Verret said. “He was a champion and advocate of the zoo, not only at City Hall, but also in our community. Even though Tom retired as councilmember in 2015, he was still an integral part of our zoo family, routinely visiting the zoo and continuing to be our supporter. And like Betty White, he is remembered as a true friend of the zoo and is deeply missed.”
Kim, an attorney and former managing partner at Scheper Kim & Harris LLP, brought decades of legal expertise and knowledge to GLAZA, helping create its strategic plan. Kim is also a long-time zoo member who enjoyed watching her daughter gain a passion for wildlife conservation as a student volunteer. She has made significant financial contributions through animal naming gifts and a leadership donation that started fundraising for the planned Angela Collier Garden at the zoo.
“My husband John and I are proud to support the zoo for many reasons, not the least of which is inspiring and shaping bright young minds,” Kim said.
“Diann has been a leader on the GLAZA Board of Trustees, and her contributions have been transformative for the zoo,” GLAZA president Tom Jacobson added. “She has helped expand our board and make it more diverse and was instrumental in the development of GLAZA’s vision for the future. We’re sad she’s stepping down from the GLAZA Board but are grateful for her charm and wit over many years of inspirational leadership. Diann will always be part of our GLAZA family.”
Beastly Ball tickets are $1,500 per person. The Los Angeles Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Drive in Griffith Park. For information, call (323)486-4253, or visit lazoo.org /beastlyball.
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