Zoo Update with GLAZA President Tom Jacobson – July 2022

The tiger salamander is native to North America, with varieties found coast to coast in the U.S. Photo by Jamie Pham

As we begin a new fiscal year this month, it’s time to celebrate the generosity of the people of Los Angeles to the L.A. Zoo and GLAZA, especially our wonderful members. Your loyalty during the pandemic has helped your Zoo and our animals thrive, and now we are delighted to welcome you back with no capacity restrictions and no reservation requirement. Our membership is the largest of any Los Angeles cultural nonprofit, and our numbers are surging since lockdown ended, going from 35,000 households last year to almost 45,000 households today. You mean the world to us!

The generosity of Los Angeles extended to our Safari Society, which set a record this year with more than $900,000 in gifts. Nimbly transitioning from virtual to hybrid programming, Safari Society is stronger now than it’s ever been, with 241 donor families enjoying unique wildlife experiences and supporting the mission of the L.A. Zoo. This year we hosted the Selig Legacy Society for a special morning breakfast at the Zoo to acknowledge thirteen new members who joined since the last time we were able to gather. Through this donor program, GLAZA’s endowment grew by more than $1.5 million in planned estate gifts, and we look forward to welcoming more new members at our annual October Selig Luncheon.

This year you also helped us honor the memory of our beloved Trustee Betty White, who passed away in December. Spontaneous gifts from fans and the entertainment industry were matched by GLAZA Trustees for a total of almost $250,000, a moving tribute to Betty’s lifelong advocacy for animals. We celebrated Betty at our June 4 Beastly Ball, which raised more than $1.4 million, the third-highest revenue in Beastly Ball history. Building on the wonderful experience of our two virtual Beastly Balls in 2020 and 2021, this year’s silent auction brought in more than $221,000, another record.

As the Zoo launched its first Conservation Strategic Plan last year, anonymous Angelenos made a gift of $1 million to the program that got the attention of zoos around the country. We also inaugurated the Conservation Council, a group for young philanthropic leaders in wildlife conservation. Everyone plays an important role at our Zoo. And that includes you!

Finally, for the first time in the Zoo’s history, we’ve received an allocation in the California State budget. The $2.21 million budget request by Senator Anthony Portantino will support new habitats for Cape Griffin vultures and trumpeter swans, complete the fundraising for our new entry park, the Angela Collier Garden, and initiate a design study for prototype inclusive restrooms. Your Zoo is poised for transformation!

We want to thank the people of Los Angeles and our broader California base for turning a challenging year into an astonishing one. More than two years into the pandemic, our generous donors and members have let us into their hearts, and we’re thrilled you’re a part of our Zoo family. In addition to the capital improvements funded by the State of California, you’ll soon be able to enjoy new amenities and dining options at the Zoo, including the healthy Bean Sprouts opening July 15. And August is Member Appreciation Month, with daily giveaways to thank you for your commitment to the Zoo. Together, we’ll make the new year as exciting as the last.

GLAZA President Tom Jacobson feeding a giraffe.
Tom Jacobson, GLAZA President Photo by Jamie Pham

Author: Tom Jacobson