On the Town: Beastly Ball raises funds for L.A. Zoo

There may be local fundraisers that are more glamorous, but there’s not one that is any wilder than the annual Beastly Ball that benefits the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., or GLAZA.

Hosted by the zoo’s director, John Lewis, GLAZA president, Connie Morgan, and the event’s chairperson, Tyler Kelley, just under 1,000 supporters were out in force for this annual party that took over the entire zoo this past Saturday evening.

Along with the opportunity to stroll the zoo after dark and experience up-close-and-personal meet-and-greets with some of the zoo’s inhabitants and their handlers, this year’s ball-goers were treated to a truly wild night of great food and music.

Headlining the evening’s main event, billed as a “Concert For Conservation,” were Nancy Wilson of the legendary band Heart, Liv Warfield, who was a member of Prince’s New Power Generation band, and rock icon Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

The evening’s most special guest was the zoo’s 2018 leadership honoree, animal expert and conservationist Jack Hanna, who received the prestigious Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award.

The director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds, Hanna has become recognized around the country as America’s favorite zookeeper from his numerous appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman, and as the host of the Emmy-award winning show, “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.”

Joining previous honorees the National Geographic Society, actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr., entertainer and philanthropist Lance Bass, entertainment industry attorney Ken Ziffren, actresses Pauley Perrette and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Slash who serves as a GLAZA trustee, Hanna was lauded for his hands-on approach to conservation.

The award, the highest honor the zoo bestows upon an individual or entity, was established in memory of former GLAZA Chairman Tom Mankiewicz.

A highly regarded film and television writer and director, Mankiewicz, who passed away in 2010, was associated with such films as “Superman,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Live and Let Die,” and the popular 1980s television series, “Hart to Hart.”

“Mank,” as he was known to friends, championed the cause of saving and protecting wildlife and the environment through education and on-the-ground conservation. He also promoted the zoo’s universal appeal and its accessibility as a gathering place for all in Los Angeles’ diverse communities.

As always, Burbank was once again well-represented at this year’s ball by numerous residents including actresses Allie Adkins, who was accompanied by actor Jason Liles, who plays George the gorilla in the new Dwayne Johnson film “Rampage”; actress Carolyn Hennesy, who plays attorney Diane Miller on “General Hospital,” and Jacqueline Lewis, president of the Burbank-based Jacqueline Lewis Productions who is currently working on a project with actress Catherine Bach, best-known for her role of Daisy Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” who was also on hand.

Other local notables in attendance were Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and her husband, Guillaume Lemoine, Elissa Margolis, senior vice president of Disney Corporate Social Responsibility, Kevin Callahan, who serves as the vice president of corporate citizenship at the Walt Disney Co., and Joan McCarthy, senior manager of Disney’s community engagement, who was accompanied by her husband, John.

The Beastly Ball raises more than $1 million annually for animal conservation, education and community outreach programs of the Griffith Park zoo and botanical gardens that draws 1.75 million visitors each year.

The home of a diverse collection of 1,100 animals, representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, the L.A. Zoo is accredited by the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums, whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at or (818) 563-1007.