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Toms Shoes launches new program to benefit gorilla habitat in Africa

Toms 'Chief Animal Lover' Heather Mycoskie heads new Animals Initiative program
New Toms shoe program to help endangered mountain gorillas in Democratic Republic of Congo
Anuual L.A. Zoo fundraiser to honor Heather Mycoskie, 'Chief Animal Lover' at Toms Shoes

Venice-based Toms Shoes is going animal-style with a new partnership that benefits endangered mountain gorillas living in Africa's oldest national park.

A version of Toms classic alpargata silhouette bearing the embroidered logo of Virunga National Park hit retail Tuesday, which, in addition to providing footwear to a child in need (through the company's familiar "one-for-one" formula), will see a portion of each sale donated to the 3,000-square-mile wildlife habitat located along the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern border.

It's the first shoe to be released under the company's new animal initiative, a program spearheaded by Heather Mycoskie, wife of Toms founder Blake Mycoskie, who, as the company's newly appointed "Chief Animal Lover" (everyone at the company has a similarly quirky title; Blake is "Chief Shoe Giver") will select a different animal each year to be the beneficiary of the brand's support.

As a result of the new program -- and her ongoing animal advocacy efforts -- Heather Mycoskie is set to be one of the honorees at the upcoming Beastly Ball fundraiser organized by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn.

The safari-themed event, to take place at the L.A. Zoo and Botanical Gardens on June 14, is now in its 44th year and annually raises more than $1 million for the zoo. Additional information (including how to purchase a $1,000 ticket to attend) is available online.

As of May 13, the Toms + Virunga National Park collection is available through the company's website, its brick-and-mortar flagship stores in Venice and Austin, Texas, and at the L.A. Zoo. The shoe retails for $64 for men's and women's styles and from $42 to $48 for the kids' versions.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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