The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence at Tropical Safari Gala

In celebration of 50 extraordinary years as the tropical treasure of The Palm Beaches, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society announces it raised a record-breaking $1.75 million for wildlife at its annual Tropical Safari gala.

Honorary Gala Co-Chairs Whitney Bylin, Lillian Fernandez, Michele Kessler with Zoo President & CEO Margo McKnight

Over 400 guests attended the event on February 1, 2019, on the lush tropical grounds of the Zoo in West Palm Beach. The event had not been held on Zoo grounds in over 15 years.  Zoo Board Chairman, Michele Kessler shared, “What better time than our 50th birthday to host the phenomenal supporters of the Zoo at the home of our beautiful and inspiring animals.”

Guests were wowed by the transformation of the Zoo’s grounds through the imaginative event design and production by Rafanelli. Guests were dazzled by up-close encounters with the Zoo’s majestic animals, as it is the only black-tie event where hundreds mingle with wildlife.

“A special thanks to our 2019 Gala Co-Chairs Greg Connors and Julie & Mike Connors for their devoted work on behalf of the Zoo,” said Margo McKnight, Zoo President & CEO. “Bringing the gala back to the Zoo to begin celebrations for our golden anniversary was a major undertaking, and our chairs guided the way tirelessly.”

‪During the unforgettable evening, the Zoo proudly honored Candace and the late William H. Hamm III with the Zoo’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award for their lifelong commitment to conservation. Said Candace, when learning of the honor, “We hope you will bring yourselves, your children, and grandchildren to learn about our animals, so you can experience the enchantment and awakening that comes from a visit to our hometown Zoo.”

Guests were treated to an exclusive debut of a short film on the Zoo’s 50 year history created by Honorary Gala Co-Chair Whitney Bylin, an accomplished documentary film writer, producer and director, who secured best-selling author James Patterson as narrator, and award-winning cinematographer Brian Bayerl as producer, director, cinematographer, writer and editor.

Another highlight was a lively auction, conducted by retired Sotheby’s Chairman of the Americas, Jamie Niven, featuring exclusive items such as a private chef dinner for 10 couples in the home of the Zoo’s chairman and naming rights to the Zoo’s week-old baby tapir.

‪Amid the exotic, glamorous ambiance, guests of the black-tie affair dined on haute cuisine by Silver Sac Catering and danced to the popular Boston band Sultans of Swing. Upon leaving the event, guests were treated to warm chocolate chip cookies for the ride home and a very Zoo woven gift bag with treats from Tammy Fender, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Florida Crystals, and Lori Jayne Monogramming.