It's animal prints and safari style galore at 44th Beastly Ball

Cocktails and a zoo tour with Betty White? That's worth $55,000

Supporters of every stripe, spot and feather -- some 800 in all -- turned out to the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn.'s 44th annual Beastly Ball fundraiser Saturday night, an event that honored Toms Shoes' chief animal lover Heather Mycoskie and added more than $1.1 million to the zoo's coffers.

The dress code on the invitation read "safari and casual dress," which meant a zoo's worth of animal prints (including reptile-print pantsuits, zebra-print jackets and lots and lots of leopard-spotted scarves) for the women, safari-worthy utility vests, khakis and broad-brimmed hats for the men and children in heart-meltingly cute knit animal ear caps.  

Since the event traditionally includes an after-hours stroll through the zoo to observe special close-up (and in some cases hands-on) animal feedings, the effect was not unlike a "Wild Kingdom" fever dream with species both familiar and peculiar roaming the landscape.

Over the course of the evening, the kind of creatures we encountered at close range included: a three-banded armadillo named Monty, a lanner falcon named Slider, a blanket-swaddled opossum named Irving, a blue and gold macaw named Oscar and an exquisite specimen of the common khaki-clad councilman (Tommus LaBongus) engaged in its ritual flesh-pressing dance.

After a spirited live auction led by emcee Jimmy Pardo  -- the high point of which was a $55,000 winning bid for an after-hours zoo tour and cocktail party for eight with actress (and zoo association co-chair) Betty White  -- association President Connie Morgan and Los Angeles Zoo Director John Lewis bestowed awards on the evening's honorees.

Heather Mycoskie, wife of Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie (who was on hand for his wife's star turn) and the company's recently appointed chief animal lover, was honored for her efforts on behalf of the animal kingdom.

In her short acceptance speech, Mycoskie said that although she might otherwise have had a drink beforehand to calm her nerves, she didn't -- since she's four months pregnant with the couple's first child. (We suspect the kid will have no shortage of cute baby shoes?)

The second honoree of the night was veteran entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren, who received this year's Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award. The evening also observed the 50th anniversary of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Along with White, actresses Pauley Perrette and Valerie Bertinelli brought some Hollywood star power to the event, and in addition to Blake and Heather, team Mycoskie was represented in the house (make that zoo) by Blake's sister Paige Mycoskie (founder of the Aviator Nation label).

And, although we didn't see him with our own two eyes, we have it on good authority that Mayor Eric Garcetti was on hand for at least part of the evening -- along with his wife, Amy Wakeland, and his parents, Gil and Sukey Garcetti.

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