The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society celebrated its annual Dinner Dance with the theme of “A Garden in the Wild” in honor of all things living at the Zoo on Friday, January 31, 2014 at The Breakers. Palm Beach’s wildest night was led by Chairman James D. Berwind, Honorary Chair Michele Kessler, Event Chairmen Whitney Wood Bylin and Thomas C. Quick and Auction Chair Samantha Storkerson.
Andrew Aiken, President and CEO of the Zoo, reported that the event raised $1.19 million dollars, thanks to the generous sponsors, underwriters and guests.
The nearly 400 supporters who gathered in the Mediterranean Ballroom for cocktails had the opportunity to come face-to-face with some of the Zoo’s most fascinating animals, handled by the Zoo’s Wildlife Care & Conservation Staff. Following a sumptuous dinner in the Venetian Ballroom, gala guests then bid on luxury items with the Chairman of Sotheby’s America’s Jamie Niven acting as auctioneer. The history-making auction, chaired by Samantha Storkerson, raised a record-high $210,000 for the Zoo, plus an additional $148,000 in support of the Zoo’s Outreach and Education Programs. Revelers then danced the night away to the music of the popular band, Soul Survivors.
The Zoo announced its first-ever Gala Stewardship Award, honoring Karin Luter as the inaugural winner. Luter was last year's honorary chair, and chaired both the 2011 and 2012 galas. Said Palm Beach Zoo President, Andrew Aiken, “Karin Luter has been a shining star in the history of Zoo galas, and is recognized as a quintessential leader of this event. Luter’s name will be honored on a plaque hung in the Baum Conference Center in the Zoo’s Salvatore M. Zeitlin Animal Hospital within the Melvin J. & Claire Levine Animal Care Complex, as an inspiration for others to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world for generations to come.”
Among the many spectacular auction items were a pair of dazzling diamond chandelier earrings from the celebrated fine jewelry boutique Kaufmann de Suisse of Palm Beach and Montreal. The 18k white gold earrings featured 3.65 cts. of sparkling fine diamonds, donated by Moneca Kaufmann.
The Zoo also recognized board member Stephen Myers and his wife JoAnna for their tireless dedication to the Zoo’s cause. Myers recently purchased Jaguar Palm Beach, and his long-time service on the Zoo’s Board of Directors helped establish the local business as the Zoo’s newest corporate sponsor and the sponsor of the Zoo’s jaguar habitat.
With so many generous donations as well as financial support from the record-setting auction, the Zoo also is grateful to Nancy Rogers, who won the rights to name the Zoo’s first expected baby of the year. Based on ultrasounds, an endangered baby Baird’s tapir calf is expected to be born within the month of February. Upon winning the naming opportunity, Rogers then generously requested that the Zoo hold a contest for students at local schools to name the baby calf once it is born on her behalf.
The “green theme” for the 2014 event was an appropriate choice, honoring the Zoo’s brand-new name as the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, which highlights its mission of inspiring people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. As part of the festive décor, each table featured a live centerpiece designed by Tom Mathieu of Tom Mathieu & Company, Inc., showcasing Zoo animal photos taken by wildlife photographer Budge Jamison. The “table gardens” were available to Table Garden Sponsors to take home, with the remainder to be returned for planting on Zoo grounds.
Chairman’s Committee members included: Lillian & Luis Fernandez, Candace & William Hamm, III, Ann & Charles Johnson, Karin & Joseph Luter, Susan & Lloyd Miller, Amy & John Phelan and Katharine & William Rayner.
Benefactors included: Wild Thing -- Florida Crystals Corporation. King of the Jungle – James D. Berwind, Mr. & Mrs. William H. Hamm, III, Stephen E. Myers. Gold Benefactors – Mr. & Mrs. Michael M. Connors, Florida Power & Light Company, Patrick Park. Silver Benefactors – Kim Campbell, Mr. & Mrs. E. Llwyd Ecclestone, Mary & Mark Freitas, Gunster, Susanna Hager, JP Morgan, Tracie & Gary Krieger with Barclays, Carol & John Moran, Palm Beach Kennel Club & The Rooney Family, Amy & John Phelan, Thomas C. Quick, Tiffany Raborn, The AMG Foundation/Kerry & Sean Healey, Noreen Zanft. Bronze Benefactors – Howard Cox, Mrs. John R. Donnell, Judith S. Giuliani & the Honorable Rudolph W. Giuliani, Allison & Lee Hanley, Jr., Ted Hartley & Dina Merrill, Mr. & Mrs. Sam Hunt, Ann & Charlie Johnson, Jorie Butler Kent, Ambassador & Mrs. Howard Leach, Mr. & Mrs. Dudley Moore, Jr., Mrs. Robin Parsky, Mr. & Mrs. Mike Ramos, Nancy & Bill Rollnick, Frances G. Scaife, Eddy & John Taylor, III, The Marvin H. Davidson Foundation, Inc., The William H. Pitt Foundation, Inc., U.S. Trust.
Generous Donors included: Dinner Sponsors – Michele & Howard Kessler. Table Garden Sponsors – Ann & Charlie Johnson, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Luter, III, Mr. & Mrs. William P. Rayner. Program Sponsors – Thomas C. Quick, Elizabeth & John Raese. Cocktail Hour Sponsors – Susan & Lloyd Miller, III. Nancy C. & Richard R. Rogers, The Donald A. Burns Foundation. Butterfly Release Sponsors – Ellen & Ian Graham, Darlene & Gerald Jordan, Dorothy & Sidney Kohl, Suzie & Bruce Kovner, Mr. & Mrs. Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Paul & Sharma Schacknow. Zoo Gardener Sponsors – Mr. & Mrs. Fred M. Alger, Debra & Anson Beard, Whitney & Eric Bylin, Mr. & Mrs. J. Pepe Fanjul, Mr. & Mrs. George Gould, Antoinette Guerinni-Maraldi & Hans Kertess, Mrs. Philip Hulitar, Jorie Butler Kent, Patricia & Howard Lester, The Honorable & Mrs. Earle I. Mack, Elizabeth Post Miller, Lilli & Ambrose Monell, Stephen Mooney & Scott Velozo, Elizabeth & John Raese, RMF Family Fund, Inc./Isabel & Dick Furlaud, E. Burke Ross, Jr., Paul & Sharma Schacknow, Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Storkerson, The Breakers. Jewelry Sponsor – Kaufmann de Suisse. Auction Donors – Extra Touch Flowers, Florida Power & Light Company, Mr. & Mrs. Mark Freitas, Mr. & Mrs. Tim Gannon, PDQ, Grant Hacking, Jaguar Palm Beach, Land Rover, Aston Martin and the Myers and Simpson Families, Moneca Kaufmann of Kaufmann de Suisse Jewelers, Eddie Schmidt & Ozzie Medeiros of Table 26, Keith Williams. Gift Bag Donors – Lori Jayne Bernstein, Florida Crystals Corporation, OZO2 Eco Cleaners, The Sugar Monkey.
Proceeds from “A Garden in the Wild” Dinner Dance will help the Zoo to advance its mission of inspiring people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world.