More than 400 guests attended Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society’s annual Tropical Safari Gala on January 31, 2020, on the lush, tropical grounds of Palm Beach Zoo. Michele Kessler, chairman of the Zoo’s board of directors, and Thomas C. Quick, board member, served as chairmen of the Tropical Safari Gala that raised a record-breaking $1.8 million for Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society. Honorary chairmen were Greg, Julie, and Mike Connors.
Tropical Safari Gala began with a cocktail reception, followed by an haute cuisine dining experience, a lively auction and dancing to Sultans of Swing. The Gala connected guests to some of the Zoo’s most notable denizens. Animal encounters included a welcome from Wilbur, the Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, an evening stroll by the Zoo’s flock of flamingos, Priscilla, the African crested porcupine, and an avian flyover by two macaws, all in support of the Zoo’s mission of inspiring people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world.
The Gala supports the Zoo’s global efforts to preserve the planet’s most threatened species and habitats, including Sassy, the Zoo’s orphan Florida panther, Swallow-tail kites and Florida’s Coral Reef. Tropical Safari honored longtime Zoo ambassadors, Lillian and Luis Fernandez, with the Gala Stewardship Award to celebrate their leadership, generosity and support for more than two decades.
Friends of the Zoo, Kathie and Dan Comerford, JoAnna and Stephen Myers and Sandy and Pat Rooney, were also honored for their unwavering dedication, generosity, and support of Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society. Magnanimous gifts from Milly and Patrick Park, Leonard and Judy Lauder and Lillian and Luis Fernandez galvanized the Zoo’s Wildlife Call to Action.
“We had much to celebrate at this evening’s event,” said Michele Kessler. “From steadfast Zoo supporters and Gala Stewardship Award recipients, Lillian and Luis Fernandez, to the future groundbreaking of The Candy and William Hamm Education and Conservation Center and significant advancements toward the protection of endangered species, tonight’s event represents our community’s connection and commitment to our Palm Beach Zoo.”
During this enchanting evening, guests were treated to an exclusive debut of Innovation, Conservation, and Compassion: Building the Zoo of the Future, a short film written and produced by board member Whitney Bylin in collaboration with best-selling author James Patterson as narrator and Brian Bayerl as cinematographer. The live auction was expertly conducted by retired Sotheby’s chairman, Jamie Niven.
Proceeds from Tropical Safari Gala will help the Zoo continue to save wildlife and wild places.
Special thanks to Tropical Safari Benefactors: Presenting Sponsor SuffolkCares. Wild Thing- Eileen and Jack Connors, Candy Hamm, and Michele and Howard Kessler. King of the Jungle-Ambassador Mishaal bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Lillian and Luis Fernandez, Florida Crystals, and the Quick Family. Gold Sponsors-Julie and Mike Connors, Jane Grace, The John A. Moran Charitable Trust, JoAnna and Stephen Myers and Ann and Christopher Quick. Dinner Sponsor-The Marvin H. Davidson Foundation. Wine Sponsors- Jeff and Mei Sze Greene.
Corporate sponsors of Tropical Safari included: Florida Crystals; J.P. Morgan; Florida Power & Light; Bank of America; Tammy Fender; Monkey in Paradise.