The Beastly Ball happened on Saturday evening, June 3, 2023, at the Los Angeles Zoo, raising more than $1.6M at its annual fundraiser in support of the Zoo’s wildlife conservation initiatives, veterinary care, education programs, and more. Actor, comedian, and host Joel McHale emceed the event for the fourth time, leading a rousing fund-a-need paddle raise during the evening’s program that benefits the Los Angeles Zoo’s Zoo Pals program, which provides under-resourced schools and groups with free admission and free transportation to the Los Angeles Zoo.

Event Honoree Diann H. Kim & Brigid LaBonge, the late Tom LaBonge’s wife

Also announced during the program was the renaming of the Zoo Pals program to Betty White’s Zoo Pals in honor of the late actress and longtime Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association trustee. White’s estate contributed matching funds to the night’s fund-a-need paddle raise. Honorees this year included longtime City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who was honored posthumously with the Betty White Conservation Hero Award for his unwavering support of the L.A. Zoo and surrounding Griffith Park. Also honored was former GLAZA Trustee Diann H. Kim, who has dedicated the last 12 years to helping shape the future of GLAZA and the Zoo.

“Los Angeles knows how to throw a good party, but there is no better place to spend an evening than at the Los Angeles Zoo for our annual Beastly Ball,” states Tom Jacobson, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association’s president. “We are grateful for all our friends, from corporate sponsors and city officials to guests who gave so generously during our fund-a-need paddle raise. This historic night of fundraising was the second highest grossing event in our 50 plus years of hosting this gala,” he goes on to say.

Guests of the Beastly Ball, which included Actors Charlie Sheen, Charley Koontz, and Kola Bokinni; Musician Sammy Hagar; former L.A. Dodger Adrián González; Actresses and Zoo Ambassadors Pauley Perrette and Carolyn Hennesy; and Beastly Ball red carpet host YouTube sensation GloZell Green, were treated to an after hours progressive party through the Zoo’s lush grounds, where they sampled regional and global cuisine from popular L.A. eateries and caterers including Little Sister, The Federal Bar, Chef Dora Presents, Pink’s Hot Dogs, Momed, the L.A. Zoo’s Taste of the Wild Catering, and many more while sipping refreshing libations from Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Company, Lalo Tequila, OLGA Vodka, and others along the way. Partygoers learned firsthand about the Zoo’s animals and conservation efforts through engaging animal keeper chats and feedings; enjoyed live performances and music; and bid on an array of amazing silent auction items that contributed to the success of the night. The after-hours stroll culminated at the Zoo’s Treetops Terrace with the evening’s program led by McHale along with dancing, drinks, and desserts provided by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Milk Jar Cookies, John Kelly Chocolates, Krispy Kreme donuts, and Don Fransisco’s coffee.

All Photos Courtesy of Jamie Pham

“This year’s Beastly Ball was truly a magical and unforgettable evening,” said Denise M. Verret, CEO & Zoo Director, Los Angeles Zoo. “Words cannot express how thankful I am to all of the generous donors, friends, and supporters who came together not only to support the Los Angeles Zoo and our mission of saving wildlife, enriching our communities, and creating connections to nature, but also to honor the legacy and dedication of our friend, late Councilmember Tom LaBonge, and GLAZA Trustee Diann Kim. This incredible generosity supports the Zoo’s journey to fulfill our vision of creating a world where people and wildlife thrive, together.”

Those who would like to contribute to the nonprofit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association in support of its shared mission with the Los Angeles Zoo can do so at www.lazoo.org/donate.

Corporate Partners supporting the Beastly Ball include California Credit Union, Skechers, and U.S. Bank.

All Photos Courtesy of Jamie Pham