Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

The Valley Line: Event proves to have animal magnetism

The Valley Line: Event proves to have animal magnetism
Actress Betty White, a devoted zoo supporter, with a scaly friend at the Los Angeles Zoos Beastly Ball.
(Photo by Jamie Pham, Los Angeles Zoo)

Yay! Summer is here, and that means the outdoor music venues are tuning up. The peacocks are vocalizing with the Pasadena Pops orchestra in their new home at the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia with programs in July, August and September; Music at the L.A. Zoo hosts shows July 13 and 27; and the Levitt Pavilion Pasadena has begun its 10th season and goes weekly through Aug. 26. The granddaddy of them all, the Hollywood Bowl, has already begun to enchant music lovers with weekly concerts under the stars.

I’ll tell you more about all of these events in future issues, so stay dialed in, music lovers.

Speaking of the zoo, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., with La Cañadan Connie Morgan at its helm, just held its spectacular “Beastly Ball.” John Lewis, who is also a foothills resident, is director of the Los Angeles Zoo.

This was the 42nd Beastly Ball, an event that seems to grow in popularity each year and is touted as the best summer happening in L.A. This year attendees raised $1,120,000 for zoo exhibits, plant and animal species conservation and education and community outreach programs.


More than 800 animal lovers came to stroll the zoo’s botanical gardens and to meet and greet, in a “walk-about,” a host of small animals with their keepers. There were bunnies to pet, a charming desert tortoise that truly seemed to love meeting people, a cute little hedgehog, a regal eagle, a Hawaiian owl, beautiful and colorful snakes and many more critters to view up close and personal.

And Hasina, the beautiful Rothschild Giraffe, is going to have a baby! The expectant mom still seems very svelte, so she hides her pregnancy very well. The baby’s daddy is Artemis, and he was looking very proud that he is going to be a dad.

One of the keepers said the baby is due around February. I can hardly wait to see the “little one” that will probably be close to 6 feet tall when it is born!

There was one tiny baby to admire at the event, and it was the offspring of a chimpanzee named Gracie. The baby was nestled against its mommy’s breast, so it was difficult to get a good look. Every now and then a tiny bright pink hand or foot would be visible. Gracie is such a good mom, and this is her second baby. One of the other chimps is expected to deliver a baby any day now.


While guests meandered through the zoo, they tasted fabulous foods prepared by more than 20 popular Los Angeles-area restaurants. Among the tasty delights to sample were the famous garlic bread from the Smokehouse, birria short rib tacos from Ix-Tapa Cantina & Grill, Green Street’s loved Dianne salad and zucchini bread, New England Clam chowder from Clancy’s Crab Broiler, Philadelphia cheese steaks and chipotle cheese steaks from Jersey Mike’s Subs in La Cañada, Pink’s famous hot dogs and the wildly popular mashed potato bar from Food Fetish Catering. The mashed potatoes are served up in martini glasses and the array of toppings to add to the mix is astonishing — bacon, sautéed mushrooms, corn chowder, boiled eggs, chives, sour cream and much more.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the desserts. Well, they went on and on and very deliciously so.

In between the food stations and the animals were silent-auction tables filled with so many tempting goodies to bid on.

Our meandering path finally led us to the plaza where the formal portion of the program. Makoto Taiko drummers got everyone’s attention. Comedian Jimmy Pardo was the evening’s emcee.

Connie Morgan, as well as John Lewis, opened up the program by greeting guests.

Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan and actress Sarah Michelle Gellar were honored and introduced during the program.

Riordan was recognized for his pivotal contributions to making the zoo an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife.

Gellar, a Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. Safari Club patron and an active advocate for various charities, received the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award recognizing members of the entertainment community who have excelled in establishing meaningful and lasting programs that contribute to the welfare of the world’s natural and our own civic environment.


Pardo led the spirited bidding on the live auction that included an opportunity to breakfast at L.A.’s legendary Pantry Restaurant and a “behind-the-scenes” tour and dinner at the zoo with Betty White that went to two bidders for $10,000 each.

This is truly an amazing party. Something to consider for next year!

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Let her know about your special events at