Supporters of the Los Angeles Zoo came out in force to show their love and gratitude to legendary actress and longtime Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. Trustee Betty White at the 40th annual Beasty Ball Saturday evening.
Renowned as one of Southern California's most popular fundraisers, this year's Beastly Ball held at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens gave guests dressed in safari-themed attire the opportunity to stroll through the facility, dine on both gourmet and fun fare provided by local restaurants and view the Griffith Park facility's beastly inhabitants. Guests also had the chance to get up-close-and-personal with owls, snakes, hedgehogs, armadillos, a bald eagle and other animals who were accompanied by their information-providing handlers.
Among the Burbank and Toluca Lake residents in attendance were Claire Bartles, Elsie Thompson, Walter Moore, Annet Peairs, Max Andrews, Mardi and Sarah Rustam, and Greg and Norma Edgar who were joined by their sons, Pablo and Alán. Other local notables on hand included the Walt Disney Company's Director of Community Relations Joan McCarthy who was accompanied by Diane Hough, and former Burbank School Board and State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian. Currently serving as a member of the Los Angeles City Council, Krekorian was joined by his wife, Tamar, and the couple's children, Andrew and Lori.
As the sun set over the zoo, the evening's main event commenced. Emceed by actress Pauley Perrette who stars as forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on CBS's "NCIS," the event served as an opportunity for supporters, along with government and zoo officials, to show their appreciation to the 88-year-old White for her 46 years of service to the zoo as a trustee, commissioner and financial supporter.
Among those who recognized and paid tribute to the guest of honor were L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Council members Tom LaBonge and Janice Hahn, L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, Burbank Reps. Adam Schiff, Rep. Brad Sherman, and GLAZA Chairman Tom Mankiewicz and President Connie Morgan, and Los Angeles Zoo Director John Lewis.
"Betty shares the belief that our mission is to nurture wildlife and enrich the human experience," Lewis said. "She's been a part of this institution for over four decades and an integral force behind many of our new exhibits which nurture our animal residents and have provided tremendous educational experiences for millions of visitors."
Others who had the opportunity to show their gratitude to White, who currently stars as Elka in TV Land's new sitcom "Hot in Cleveland," were actress Stefani Powers, former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, and NBC-4's Fritz Coleman and comedian Jimmy Pardo who worked as a team in conducting the evening's live auction that offered one-of-a-kind adventures including a private tour of the zoo and dinner with White.
Since 1963, GLAZA has funded the zoo's exhibits, plant and animal species conservation, capital projects, and education and community outreach programs. The organization currently boasts the largest membership base of any cultural organization in Los Angeles County with more than 72,000 member households and a volunteer corps of more than 900.