PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS — It’s going to be a “Party in the Outback” at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens’ annual Zoobilee Gala on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Guests are invited to share in an evening of spirited beverages, Aussie entertainment, auction opportunities, “Down Under” dining, and of course, engaging animal encounters.

Generously presented by Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade, and honoring Patti and Jack Grundhofer, the 26th Annual Zoobilee Gala will be one to remember. Guests, encouraged to dress in Outback chic, will be treated to an Australian-themed evening, complete with unique experiences such as up-close animal encounters, and the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind silent and live auction items.

The Gala fundraiser kicks off with a cocktail reception and silent auction at 5:30 p.m., at the Patti and Jack Grundhofer Plaza and Living Legacy Garden at The Living Desert, followed by dinner, entertainment, and a live auction at 7 p.m.

Zoobilee Gala Designed as Party in the Outback

Peggy Cravens, Giraffe Stilt (Photos courtesy of Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.)

“We are thankful for our generous patrons and donors,” Allen Monroe, President/CEO, said in a prepared statement. “It’s their ongoing support that allows us to continue our conservation efforts and expand our reach to help save endangered and threatened species. Zoobilee is one of our biggest fundraisers and we invite everyone to join us for a Party in the Outback.”

This year, longtime Zoo supporters Patti and Jack Grundhofer will be honored for their leadership in helping to complete Phase One of the current capital campaign, Pride of the Desert. The Patti and Jack Grundhofer Plaza is now open and welcoming guests with a stunning entrance into the zoo.

“Our theme, “Party in the Outback”, is in celebration of our new Australian habitat – opening late fall 2019,” Jan Hawkins, Director of Development, said in a news release. “We are excited to share a preview with our generous donors and build even more excitement for this new feature of The Living Desert.”

The 2019 Zoobilee Gala’s presenting sponsors are Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade. They are joined by diamond sponsors Peggy and Hal Bernthal; platinum sponsors Joy and Harry Goldstein, Candace and Jon Holzgrafe, and JoAnn McGrath; gold sponsors Sharon and Dean Baltzell and Donna MacMillan; silver sponsors Bright Event Rentals, Jan Salta, and BJ and Van Skilling; and bronze sponsors Suzan and Bill Appel, Lu Barnes, Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Karen Miles. Media Sponsors include Palm Springs Life and The Desert Sun.

The gala’s honorary presenting chairs are Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade, and honorary chairs include Lu Barnes, Dennis Flaig, Helene Galen and Jamie Kabler, Dodi and Kevin Henry, Donna MacMillan, JoAnn McGrath, Jan Salta, Lori and Aubrey Serfling, and Dick Shalhoub.  The 2019 Zoobilee Gala co-chairs are Jon-Marc Blalock and Nancy Stegehuis, with committee members Karen Alciatore, Suzan Appel, Erica Espinola, Judy Esterbrook, Dennis Flaig, Marylynn Gladstein, Jan Harnik, Mark Hersh, Candace Holzgrafe, Peggy Karcher, Janet Lanterman, Jaishri Mehta, Davis Meyer, Jneil Nelson, Sharon O’Donnell, Nick Raab, Nancy Rosenthal, Dick Shalhoub, Mary Lou Solomon, John Southorn, Patty Spicer, Carla Sullivan-Dilley, Donna Ward, Julie Williamson and Sandy Woodson.  The event is produced by Frank Goldstin, Momentous Events.

Proceeds from the Zoobilee Gala support The Living Desert’s renowned conservation initiatives, help educate more than 100,000 children about the flora and fauna of the world’s deserts, and provide the best and highest level of animal care. Tickets are $500 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 Zoobilee Gala is held at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens located at 47900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, CA 92260.