On Saturday, June 11th, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) will present the 46th annual Beastly Ball. The event will set out to do many things, including honoring longtime zoo donors Patricia and Stanley Silver, bestowing the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award for the sixth time to actor/environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr., and presenting the more than 1,000 attendees with new additions to the zoo, like the Tasmanian devil brothers.
The extravaganza, which is expected to raise over one million dollars, will feature a buffet of bedazzling animal-inspired foods and treats from restaurants such as El Cholo, Antonio’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant, Sparkling Treatz, Canele, the Hard Rock Cafe, Buttermilk House Catering, The Federal Bar, Hnina, Simmzy’s, Yummy Cupcakes, and more.
For instance, in preparation for the ball, El Cholo has concocted tamales that celebrate the tortoises at the zoo; Antonio’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant has designed an incredible meatloaf that lionizes the hippopotamus; Sparkling Treatz has infused the cake pop concept with the razzle-dazzle of the peacock; the Hard Rock Cafe has put together a herbivore urban salad (with shredded carrots and crispy fried onions); and Hnina has created a sprawling cacao zoo jungle that will leave one breathless.
The saying, “food is art” has never been more apropos in this case, so much so that one might be more inclined to stare at, take photos of, and appreciate the presentations rather than biting into them – only to be impressed all over again by how mouth-watering they all are.
Even so, while the event’s gustatory and aesthetic qualities cannot be denied, it is important to not miss the intention of the Beastly Ball, insofar as what it means and what it truly stands for.
Actress Carolyn Hennesy (known for General Hospital and True Blood), who presided over the Beastly Ball preview on June 2nd, has been compelled to be a part of these proceedings, because of how impassioned she is by her love of animals. Joined by the President of GLAZA, Connie Morgan, Co-Chairman Richard Lichtenstein, and L.A. Zoo Director John Lewis, Hennesy compared the prestigiousness of the ball to the musical that is sweeping the nation, Hamilton.
The influence of the Beastly Ball cannot be ignored, but it is also paramount, Hennesy believes, that people educate themselves on why it is such a crucial fundraising event.
“The fundraising goes towards animal conservation. The zoo and what it does raises funds that go toward protecting endangered species, which also extends beyond the confines of the zoo. The money, for example, is used to save the condor in California, or, like at SeaWorld, rehabilitate beached sea lions,” Hennesy states.
On the other hand, there are individuals, according to the veteran actress, that have gotten the wrong idea about what zoos are trying to do and are thus misguided, driven by a “radical activism” that only has nefarious implications.
“There are radical activists out there who try to cut funding, who have an ignorance about the zoo’s mission, which is the upkeep and care of animals, many of which are becoming extinct. What the zookeepers do is especially important, and they really aren’t even paid that much; it’s a selfless job. Ultimately, the truth is that the animals need us and we need them,” Hennesy concludes.
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