We look forward to our annual Beastly Ball on May 18 and hope you will join us for the Zoo’s largest fundraiser and one of the best parties in Los Angeles! This year we will honor Dr. Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, National Geographic Explorer in Residence and first female chief scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Earle is known for her dedication to protecting the world’s oceans and their wildlife, for which *The New Yorker* magazine has named her “Her Deepness.”
We will also present our first “Conservation Hero” award to Glen Curado, founder and CEO of the World Harvest Charities and Family Services, a local nonprofit that provides food, basic staples, and living essentials to more than 48,000 families and seniors in 58 California counties. World Harvest Food Bank often has surplus produce that cannot be distributed quickly enough to people, so they donate tons of it to the Zoo each month to keep the food from being wasted and to help feed our animals. Finally, we will recognize retired GLAZA President Connie Morgan for her 16-plus years of service to GLAZA and the Los Angeles Zoo.
April 7–13 was National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration of philanthropic individuals who contribute their time and talents to worthy organizations throughout the country. Our dedicated Zoo volunteers/docents generously donate nearly 70,000 hours annually, leading school tours, working with animal care, assisting at special events, taking outreach animals to community groups, and countless other essential activities. To show our tremendous appreciation for their commitment and hard work, Zoo and GLAZA staff offered them a number of very special behind-the-scenes experiences, including Flamingo Mingle and a tour of the Gottlieb Animal Health and Conservation Center.
In April, 28 new docents and 23 new student volunteers graduated from our volunteer training program. I was honored to attend both ceremonies, during which the new graduates gave presentations demonstrating what they had learned about animals, habitats, and conservation efforts. Their excitement and enthusiasm were an inspiration.
Jane Goodall expressed her clear understanding that this individual commitment is what makes an organization great when she said, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.” I hope that each new graduate, and the experienced docents and volunteers they now join, know that they play a vital role in the Zoo’s mission and that their efforts make a difference every day for the people who visit the Zoo and the people who work here.