It’s a jungle out there — The Wildlife Conservation Society’s annual gala dinner

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Cocktails around the Sea Lion pool at the Central Park Zoo for last year's Wildlife Conservation Society's annual gala dinner.

Last Tuesday night, The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) hosted its annual gala dinner at the Central Park Zoo. This dinner and the New York Botanical Garden’s dinner dance have for years marked the end of the Spring social season in New York. They draw the prominent members of the community who support projects and philanthropy that is lasting and constructive.

The dinner is held outside on the terrace surrounding the sea lion pool, and if the weather’s good it’s the best of New York. It used to be black tie although the fashions are changing, as you may have noticed, and it’s slightly less formal. Suit and tie for the men and the women dressing for it.

The reception around  the sea lion pool.

The wildlife decor patrolling the seal lions.

This year they honoring Jeff Bezos, who as you know needs no introduction. Young though he still is and appears to be, he is also founder of the Bezos Earth Fund. It is his commitment to conserving nature and fighting climate change.
As part of the Earth Fund’s $10 billion commitment, $3 billion will go to nature solutions to conserve what we still have, restore what we’ve lost, and transform food systems. The Fund, founded in 2020, is chaired by him, while Lauren Sánchez serves as vice-chair.

WCS CEO and President Cristián Samper.
Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos.

This commitment by the Earth Fund to conservation focuses on areas that are important for biodiversity and carbon stocks and emphasizes the central role of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Last year, the Earth Fund was a founding organization behind the Protecting Our Planet (POP) Challenge, which aims to ensure 30 percent of the planet is protected and preserved in the most important places for biodiversity by 2030.

WCS Chair Alejandro Santo Domingo said of the honoree: “Jeff Bezos is a transformational leader galvanizing efforts to protect nature and fight the climate crisis. He understands fully that we all have a role to play protecting our Earth. His conservation and environmental efforts will help humanity ensure nature thrives for all.”

“Nature provides the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Nature is our life support system. We simply cannot address climate change without reversing the loss of nature. It’s a great honor to receive this award from WCS, which for more than a century has been saving wildlife and wild places.”
Alejandro Santo Domingo, Jeff Bezos, and Cristián Samper.
Andrew Steer, Alejandro Santo Domingo, Charlotte Santo Domingo, Jeff Bezos, Lauren Sanchez, and Cristián Samper.
Alejandro Santo Domingo, Andrew Steer, Charlotte Santo Domingo, Jeff Bezos, Lauren Sanchez, and Cristián Samper.

WCS has safeguarded the planet’s important natural strongholds over the past century, helping to create more than 325 protected areas on land and at sea. Its network of urban wildlife parks (Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, New York Aquarium) is the largest in the world. It connects millions of visitors each year to nature and science.

All proceeds raised through Gala 2022 will help WCS advance conservation science, action, and education, as it has done since its founding more than 125 years ago.

L. to r.: Hannah Gershenson and Patrick Giordano; Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrell Aston.
Alison and Leonard Stern, and Nancy Silverman.
L. to r.: Mary Bryant McCourt; Priscilla and Alexis Zoullas.
L. to r.: Cristián Samper, with Charlotte and Alejandro Santo Domingo; Gillian Hearst.
Silvio Gonzato and Alexandre Stutzmann.
L. to r.: Chuck and Ellen Scarborough; Marisa and Robin van Bokhorst.
L. to r.: Suriya Khan and Trevor Phillips; Kitty Sherrill and Ana Laffont.
His Excellency Michel Xavier Biang and his daughter Michèle Biang.
L. to r.: Samantha Sorbaro and Kam Chauhan; Elizabeth and Lee Ainslie.
Ward Woods, Antonia Grumbach, and Cristián Samper.
L. to r.: Juan Manuel Santos and Belén Samper; Ward Woods and Cristián Samper.
DJ June.
Hudson Horns perform.

Angela Pham/ & Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

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