Living Desert Zoobilee promotes conservation in Palm Desert
Cooler weather and steady winds didn’t deter the sold-out crowd of 350 colorfully dressed guests who paid $1,000 per person to enjoy the spectacular return of the annual Wild Times Zoobilee Gala at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.
The evening began with guests, many sporting animal prints and animal-themed sports accessories, enjoying cocktails in the Living Legacy Garden, while learning about animal connections and participating in the legendary rhino raffle.
From there, guests proceeded to the colorful and artfully decorated covered pavilion to feast on a delicious three-course dinner by Carousel Cateringcomposed of a mozzarella tomato stack, cabernet-braised short ribs, an angel hair flan, a wild mushroom ragout and a delicious lemon-raspberry meringue pie.
After dinner and the live auction, guests enjoyed evening entertainment provided by ABBAFan, an ABBA tribute band. This feel-good musical performance took guests on a musical journey, revisiting the music that defined a generation.
Brooke Bear served as event moderator, assisted by the auction host Brian Harnik and profit auctioneer Dale Johannes.
“We were incredibly thrilled to come together again with our donors and supporters to celebrate our recent accomplishments, including the opening of the new Rhino Savanna and record attendance,” said Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert. “And we are honored to recognize Larry Spicerunwavering dedication and commitment to the success of this organization. His commitment to conservation is reflected in his nearly 40 years of service as a board member of The Living Desert.”
This year’s gala, co-chaired by Dennis Flaig Moore and Nancy Stegehuis, has raised over $1.4 million to benefit The Living Desert’s exceptional animal care, unwavering commitment to local and global conservation programs, and dedication to providing engaging and impactful educational programs for schoolchildren of the region. “We are so grateful to the people and organizations who have continued to support The Living Desert during these difficult times,” said Jan HawkinsDirector of development.
“It has been a great privilege and an exciting adventure for me and my wife, Pattyto help grow the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens from a simple yet inspired beginning on the path to the accredited modern zoo we enjoy today,” said the Spicer Awardee. “It has truly been an upward path, with new exhibits, visitor enhancements, community participation and a worldwide reputation.”
Among the exclusive live auction items inspiring bidders to frenzied heights was one of three stunning diamond jewelry designs from El Paseo Jewelerstwo separate shopping and dining packages featuring the best of El Paseo, a wine cellar dinner for 16 at Tuscany Country Clubdressing rooms BNP Paribas tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and naming rights for the newest and cutest addition to The Living Desert, a female giraffe born in February. Also on the auction block were a scenic train ride from Denver Colorado to Moab, Utah, and a chance to meet the living desert black rhino, Jaali, up close and personal.
Crew member Jim Gould and his wife, Susanna, placed the winning bid at $75,000 to name the female giraffe calf. In addition to naming rights, the Goulds will receive a VIP experience of a behind-the-scenes tour for six guests guided by The Living Desert’s giraffe care team.
Sponsors for the 2022 Wild Times Zoobilee Gala included sponsor Diamond JoAnn McGrath and the Highland Street Foundation. Platinum sponsors included the Argyros Family Foundation, Sharon and Dean Baltzellthe Goulds, Exit and Michael Schreter and the Gordon W. and Ursula I. Johnson Trust. They were joined by gold sponsors which included the Town of Rancho Mirage, Connie and Bob Lurie, Steven Tobin, Johnny Krupa and the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation and Rita Stec and Lance Elder.
Seen in the crowd were Tap and David Lamb, Invoice and Susan Call, Deirdre Monroe, Karine and Bob Rishwain, Jon Stegehuis, Craig McCollam, Marylyn and Andy Gladstein, Marie Lou Graziadio, Trudy and David Johnson, Anne and Steve Furgal, Géri and walter clark, Kathy and Warren Smith, roger and Therese Snoble, Phil and Becky Smith, sat and Amber Spinello, Bill Simkins, Susan Stein, Clint Flaig Moore, Candy and Jon Holzgrafe, Deborah Chapman, Ted and Jenny Well, John Harnik, Bob Archer and Chuck Hillier, Linda Rider, Marge Barry, Brooke and Dan Koehler, Edie McCarthy and David Lee, Mary Lou and Dick Solomon, Dr. Peter Scheer and Christy Majors, Jaishri and Raju Mehta, Dick Shalhoub and Tracy Smith, Suz Hunt, Karen Miles, Jon Mark and Alanna Blalock, Chris and John Blair and Judy Vossler and Jack Fitz Gerald.
According to Monroe, now more than ever, The Living Desert’s role in global conservation is essential. The Living Desert’s new four-acre multi-species Rhino Savanna Habitat brings guests of all ages face-to-face with Africa’s beautiful, iconic and unique animals, with the critically endangered black rhino leading the charge.
For more information about The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens or to donate, call (760) 346-5694 or visit livingdesert.org.
Madeline Zuckerman is owner and president of Mr. Zuckerman Marketing & Public Relations Inc., a strategic marketing, branding, public relations and special events firm with offices in Rancho Mirage and Newport Beach, California. . She was a guest reporter for The Desert Sun for 14 years, is a founder of the McCallum Theater and sits on the board of Shelter From The Storm. Its long-time clients include AFP, Desert Arc, Mama’s House and Olive Crest.