Sammy the shingleback skink greeted visitors after hours at the L.A. Zoo (Photos by Tanaya Ghosh)
The Los Angeles Zoo stayed open after hours for its annual Sunset Safari on April 21st.
Supporters of the L.A. Zoo and their families enjoyed the incredible night of animal interaction and education, hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA).
The Safari Club donors got a first look at the new LAIR (living amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles) habitat, and were treated to a delicious international feast with Latin flair to end the night. Guests also enjoyed rides on the beautiful Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel, filled with all kinds of animals including poison dart frogs, cheetahs and seals.
There were zookeeper talks and live feedings of many of the animals, such as the komodo dragons and the gorillas. While the dragons ate chicken, the gorillas ate tamarind pods. The zookeepers were very friendly, and it was evident that they are truly passionate about the animals they care for, and have special bonds with them.
From chatting with the zookeepers, we learned the average lifespan of a seal (about 35 years), the difference between sea lions and seals (their limb joints and muscular structure), and the fact that Gray's monitors need the sugars and fiber found in fruits to survive.
The LAIR exhibit is very impressive, as it is the zoo's newest attraction, open since March. The habitat features over 60 species of amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles from all over the world, living in 49 natural-looking exhibits. There were snakes of many colors and sizes, turtles, scorpions, and lizards, to name a few.
We had the pleasure of meeting Sammy, a shingleback skink. His left eye had been removed as a result of an infection he suffered earlier, but he does just fine as skinks
use their tongues for many of their senses. In fact, while petting him, Sammy licked my hand with his soft black tongue. He was adorable!
We also saw cute koalas, including a one-year-old baby, as well as an alligator, a parrot, warty pigs, and elephants. It was a truly unique experience, and a wonderful night at the L.A. Zoo!
Betty White, one of the most prominent supporters of animals and zoos, calls the L.A. Zoo "my other home." At the L.A. Times Festival of Books the very next day, she told
the overflowing crowd about her new book, "Betty & Friends: My Life At The Zoo."
Encouraging people to visit the zoo, the famous actress said, “without zoos, so many more animals will be extinct. They help save disappearing populations." White, along with GLAZA co-chair and rocker Slash, appear in several clever commercials for the new LAIR exhibit.
The Safari Club is open to the public. Everyone’s tax deductible gift will have an impact on many levels. Locally, Safari Club members support the L.A. Zoo, as this oasis of plant and animal life continues to flourish, educate and enrich our community. Globally, the donations contribute to the Zoo’s conservation and breeding programs, which offer hope of recovery for many of Earth’s endangered species. To find out more, contact Nancy Simerly at email@example.com.
Sunset Safari is among the many offerings presented by the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, founded in 1963. GLAZA provides funds and other services for Los Angeles Zoo exhibits, conservation, capital projects, education programs, community outreach, research, and more through fund-raising and an endowment, membership, special events and more. The Los Angeles Zoo is an international leader in the conservation of endangered species and one of the city’s major cultural and entertainment resources.
You can reach Tanaya Ghosh here, or follow her on Twitter.