Parties: Party Animals

By Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

Surprisingly balmy weather on May 13 at the San Francisco Zoo was on point for the ZooFest Gala theme: “Midnight at the Oasis.” Four hundred supporters, decked in festive ensembles adorned with animal stripes or spots, mingled with well-mannered residents, including peacocks and turtles. Revelers then happily followed the Adriana Belly Dance troupe into a tent colorfully designed by McCalls, which also served a delish dinner.

Led by cochairs Lesley and Brad Canfield, with assists from San Francisco Zoological Society board chairman Ed Poole and Zoo Director Tanya Peterson, this joyful fete raised $500K. Funding goes to exhibition, education and conservation programs as the 93-year-old institution recovers from a pandemic-battered budget that includes $30,000 a day (!) to feed all 2,000 animals.

And a lucrative ZooFest auction highlight is always animal naming rights. The fiercest bidding this year: monikers for three Mexican gray wolf sisters who arrived in January. A fourth sibling, already named in honor of the late wildlife conservationist and actress, now answers to “Betty White.”

Unfortunately, Starship and Mickey Thomas had to bow out of the post-party. But the groundbreaking, Ess Eff–born band now renamed The Family Stone expertly stepped in and funked-up the dance floor.

“I’m proud of our staff’s dedication, ensuring no animals got COVID. I’m grateful for support from the City, our corporate sponsors and vendors, who, when the zoo was closed, supplied free staff lunches. And not one employee was laid off,” Peterson shared. “But the pandemic also taught us, for visitors of all ages, the zoo is not only a safe haven, but truly an oasis.”

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