PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS — The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens gala honors its Golden Anniversary on Saturday, March 7, 2020 with the theme, “Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation.” Guests are invited to dress in black and gold cocktail attire and share in an evening of entertainment, unique raffle opportunities, dinner, and engaging animal encounters.

Living Desert to Celebrate Golden Anniversary

The Living Desert Zoobilee Gala 2019

The Gala fundraiser, benefitting new habitats for African black rhinoceros, lions, and a state-of-the-art event center, begins in the Living Legacy Garden with a Golden Opportunities Cocktail Reception at 5:30 p.m. Guests will have the chance to win unique experiences including Breakfast with the Giraffe, Wine Lover’s Delight and Date Nights for a Year in the Golden Opportunities Raffle. Raffle tickets are four for $100 or 25 tickets for $500. In addition, guests can purchase tickets for the Winoceros Wine Pull for appellations valued from $50.

Following the reception is 24K Fine Dining along with Raise the Paw, the Mane Event Raffle, and Solid Gold Entertainment by The Midtown Men (stars from the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys). The Mane Event raffle offers guests and non-guests the opportunity to purchase tickets for $100 each and be entered to win a white gold double-strand diamond necklace comprised of more than 23 carats featuring 279 diamonds valued at $50,000 courtesy of El Paseo Jewelers. Guests need not be present to win.

Mane Event raffle tickets may be purchased at El Paseo Jewelers, located at73520 El Paseo, Suite E, Palm Desert.

“Celebrating our 50th year is a wonderful milestone for The Living Desert, and we are thankful for our generous patrons and donors who have contributed to our success,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. “We honor our past and look to the future as excitement builds for our expansion to become the Zoo of the Future and the impact we will continue to make on  conservation efforts on a global scale.”

Living Desert to Celebrate Golden Anniversary

The Living Desert Zoobilee Gala 2019

Fifty years ago, a group of far-reaching visionaries set aside a portion of the Colorado Desert as the Living Desert Reserve where visitors would learn about and value the unique plants and animals that call the desert home. In that first year, 5,000 guests experienced the local flora and fauna amid the trails and spectacular views. With dedicated community and volunteer support over the decades, today The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens highlights desert plants and animals from around the world along with
conservation and education programs. This past year, attendance exceeded 500,000 for the first time with more than 10,000,000 visitors since 1970.

“This year’s gala proceeds will directly support our efforts to share the conservation stories of black rhinoceros, lions, and other African species,” said Jan Hawkins, Director of Development. “The funds raised will be allocated to the Zoo’s capital improvement project to build the new animal habitats and a state-of-the art event center.”

According to Monroe, now, more than ever, The Living Desert’s role in global conservation is a critical one. The Living Desert must strengthen its ability to teach future generations to conserve and share our planet’s precious resources with all living creatures – animal, plant, and human alike. Building the Zoo of the Future will include introducing new African species to the Zoo and Gardens in dramatic, immersive habitats, expanding upon conservation projects and building upon the Zoo’s education programs.

The 2020 Golden Anniversary Gala’s title sponsors are Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade. They are joined by Platinum Sponsors Edie McCarthy and the Patrick M. McCarthy Foundation; Gold Sponsors Sharon & Dean Baltzell, Susan & James Gould, and City of Rancho Mirage; Silver Sponsors Jan Salta, BJ & Van Skilling, and Bright Event Rentals; Bronze Sponsors Suzan and Bill Appel, Lu Barnes, Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sharon & Craig McCollam, Karen Miles, and Grace Helen Spearman Foundation. Media Sponsors include Palm Springs Life and The Desert Sun. Donna
MacMillan is the Invitation Patron.

Living Desert to Celebrate Golden Anniversary

The Living Desert Zoobilee Gala 2019

The gala’s honorary presenting chairs are Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade, and the cochairs are Patti Grundhofer and Dennis Flaig-Moore. Members of the gala committee also include Karen Alciatore, Suzan Appel, Jon-Marc Blalock, Karla & Jeff Elder, Erica Espinola, Marylynn Gladstein, Lea Goodsell, Lindsay Grant, Jan Harnik, Candace Holzgrafe, Janet Lanterman, Jaishri Mehta, Davis Meyer, Jneil Nelson, Nick Raab, Dick Shalhoub, Mary Lou Solomon, Patty Spicer, Susan Stauber, Nancy Stegehuis, Susan Stein, Carla Sullivan-Dilley, Judy Vossler, Julie Williamson, and Sandy Woodson. The event is produced by Frank Goldstin, Momentous Events.

The gala is underwritten by the following business and sponsor supporters: El Paseo Jewelers, Shirley Smith, Candace & Jon Holzgrafe, Rita Stec & Lance Eldred, Dick Shalhoub, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Whitewater Rock & Supply Co, Patti & Jack Grundhofer, Susan Cooper, the Hoot Durali Lynch Investment Group of Wells FargoAdvisors, Aristotle Capital Management, Hotel Paseo, and J. Squire Junger.

The 50th Anniversary Gala tickets are $550 per person and sponsorship opportunities begin
at $2,500.

For more information, underwriting and sponsor opportunities, and to purchase tickets, click here,
or contact Greg Murphy at or (760) 346-9584. The Golden Anniversary Gala will be held at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens located at 47900 Portola Avenue in Palm Desert.

Image Sources

  • The Living Desert Zoobilee Gala 2019: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
  • The-living-desert-zoobilee-gala-2019-1The Living Desert Zoobilee Gala 2019 (1): The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
  • The Living Desert Zoobilee Gala 2019: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens