On The Avenue

Party Animals!

by Kelly Laffey Photographed by Joe Schildhorn/BFA.com
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sea lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Last week the Wildlife Conservation Society hosted its annual gala at the Central Park Zoo, where guests celebrated women in conservation and WCS’s global impact.

Based in the Bronx Zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society seeks to conserve the world’s wild places in 16 priority regions that represent over 50% of the world’s biodiversity. “Our mission is to save wildlife and wild places,” said Cristián Samper, CEO of WCS. “We really focus on countries where we can make a difference— where governance is struggling, and we can play an important role.” 

This year’s event celebrated women in conservation, including speakers Jessica Moody, Assistant Curator at the Bronx Zoo; and Natalia Rossi, Manager of the WCS Cuba Program. “The really great thing about WCS is that there is a very clear link between what we do at the zoo, and our initiatives in wildlife conservation,” said Moody. “A lot of what we do [at the Bronx Zoo] has do do with educating the public—using our programs at the zoo to bring awareness to our programs in the field.”

“When I first started working for WCS in the 1970s in my earlier lawyer life, there were far fewer women on the board and working in our zoos and aquarium and in the field,” said Antonia Grumbach, WCS Chair. “All those changes are heartening, and I am sure they will continue.”

The gala, which drew 500 guests, underscored the importance of New York’s urban jungle to WCS’s global mission. “For the last 20 years, I’ve lived in countries from Asia to Africa, and people still very much look to New York as the most modern, the most influential city,” said Samper. He highlighted a WCS sponsored initiative last year where the U.S. government destroyed its confiscated ivory in Times Square as a message to China to do the same.

The party began with cocktails around the sea lion tank. The social animals mingled with guests before an educational feeding session, where they dazzled with a number of tricks.


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