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Up close and hands on – Sunset Safari at LA Zoo

Up close and hands on – Sunset Safari at LA Zoo

(l-r) Claire Dennis and Elizabeth Mansour - photo by Jamie Pham

Scores of supporters of the Los Angeles Zoo, along with their excited children, were treated to a special interactive evening with the animals at the Zoo’s annual Sunset Safari last Saturday. The super-fun night for Safari Club donors was hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA). Patrons of the Safari Club, which is GLAZA’s premier annual giving society, enjoyed an after-hours evening of dinner and music, as well as the opportunity to touch and observe some of the Zoo’s smaller animals.

Claire Dennis and Elizabeth Mansour played with a gopher snake at the Sunset Safari.

GLAZA President Connie Morgan and Los Angeles Zoo Director John Lewis presided over the fun event. The 2010 Sunset Safari featured a variety of keeper talks and feedings with the Zoo’s recently acquired Brazilian giant otters – extremely large and very playful – as well as the maned wolf, mountain tapirs, white-faced saki, golden lion tamarins, snow leopards, tigers, a sleepy Indian rhino and hungry black bears. Connie Morgan and John Lewis - photo by Jamie Pham

A monstrous hippo enjoyed a stream of water being hosed into his cavernous mouth and behind his ears while a contented Asian elephant munched nosily on handy greenery.

There were also strolling ‘animal walkabouts,’ which included chats with keepers and the chance to observe small animals up close.

Here Madison Jennings – rocking a Jack White-style hat – got to meet a docile Australian skink. Madison Jennings - photo by Jamie Pham

Several keepers were holding large and heavy owls on their gloved arms, including a great horned owl named “Thurston Owl III” – a moniker that gained hoots of laughter from anyone old enough to remember the characters from the TV show Gilligan’s Island.  In other words, the kids looked pretty puzzled by that pun.

Never mind – there was plenty to keep them all entertained.

The tour was followed by lashings of food including a mashed potato bar, various Peruvian delicacies such as tamales and even a chocolate fountain. Zoo patrons dined al fresco to the jaunty music of a Peruvian folk band.

All in all, a grand time was had by all!

The SAFARI CLUB is open to the public. Everyone’s tax deductible gift, which begin at $1,500, have an impact on many levels. Locally, they support the Zoo, as this oasis of plant and animal life continues to flourish, educate and enrich your community. Globally, they contribute to the Zoo’s conservation and breeding programs, which offer hope of recovery for many of Earth’s endangered species.

Sunset Safari is among the many offerings presented by the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, founded in 1963. This year marks more than four decades of GLAZA’s success in supporting the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden’s work as an educational resource for the citizens of Los Angeles, and as an international center for the conservation of endangered wildlife. GLAZA provides funds and other services for Los Angeles Zoo exhibits, conservation, capital projects, education programs, community outreach, research, and more through fund-raising and an endowment, membership, special events and more. GLAZA currently has 65,000 member households, the second largest membership base of a cultural organization in Los Angeles. Many of its nearly 300,000 individual members have sustained their GLAZA support for more than 20 years. The Los Angeles Zoo is an international leader in the conservation of endangered species and one of the city’s major cultural and entertainment resources.

Safari Club patrons are immersed in opportunities to experience the Zoo as a catalyst for change in our natural world and to come closer to the animals we all love.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways.

For information about the SAFARI CLUB, please contact Nancy Simerly at 323 644-4717 or via email: [email protected]

Report by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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