HughE Dillon: Philadelphia Zoo Gala

A soiree to support global conservation brings out wildlife lovers

Last night, the charitable came together at the Marriott Downtown for the Global Conservation Gala to support conservation and the Philadelphia Zoo‘s effort to preserve habitats and endangered species around the world. In the past, Zoobilee has been the big fundraiser for the Zoo, but this year zoo officials wanted to do something different while still having fun and educating guests. The event was co-chaired by Maria and Eliana Papadakis, pictured below with Justice Sandra Schultz Newman and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Maria was excited to chair the event with her mother, as they are both huge animal lovers and are committed to spreading awareness on how to protect animals in the wild, especially the orangutans. (One way we can help is to end our use of palm oil, which is found in rainforests where the orangutans live, and where logging companies target.)

There weren’t as many animals to see, but the Marriott was transformed into a rainforest of Indonesia, where endangered orangutans live. In 2012, the Philadelphia Zoo will launch the “Year of the Orangutan”—a Zoo-wide mission to save the wild orangutans and their forest habitats from extinction.

The Indonesian Cultural Club greeted guests, and a Gamelan Semara Santi Indonesian percussion orchestra helped transport guests to Indonesia. The theme was carried throughout the room as planned by Mary Love, director of events at the Zoo. Starting with a blank slate and instructions from her boss, Amy Shearer, Mary created a room that put you in the middle of a rainforest, with tropical trees projected on the walls, a large screen video wall with orangutans in their natural habitat, and lighting that completed the theme (created by Advanced Staging Productions). The decor, which included magnificent centerpieces, lamps and silk napkins were nice Southeast Asian touches done by Penncora Productions.

Below: Michael Pomante, director of development at William Way LGBT Community Center, Vikram Dewan, president of the Philadelphia Zoo, Jami Dewen, Chris Bartlett, executive director at William Way Center, and Deborah Francesco, principal at Baldwin Investment. President Dewan said, “We have not been the best stewards of our planet,” but now with an active role in conservation we can begin to save the planet, and orangutans that could completely disappear from our planet by 2025 if something isn’t done to save them.

Below: Jean Campbell, Marcia Campbell and Ian Campbell.

Below: Jenny Carey, Maude de Schauensee, committee member, and Anne Wilmerding.

Below: Tom Lynch, and from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Kate Wilhelm, senior vice-president of business development, and Drew Becher, president. On the heels of the highly successful pop-up garden at 20th and Market, PHS is getting in gear for the Philadelphia Flower Show in March. The theme is “Hawaii”; no word on whether Drew’s former boss, Bette Midler, will be making an appearance, especially since it’s her birth-state, but I bet she’ll be there. I can tell you that there will be lava flows, waterfalls and a “Wedding Wednesday.”

Below: Rachel Moore and John Paz were enjoying one of their last nights out on the social scene before the birth of their son.

Below: Derek Dietterich, Kendall Dietterich, Joanna McNeil Lewis, board member, Amy Sacks, and Christine Clarke. Joanna is excited for the Second Annual Conservation Gala, telling me that this event is not only fun, but also educates on why it’s so important to support conservation, as well as how it’s connected to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Below: Crawford Hamilton, Global Conservation Gala committee, Dory Hamilton, Niki Ververelli, coordinator of special projects and marketing at Drexel University, and Sam Hamilton, Global Conservation Gala committee.

Below: Jessica McAtamney was honored with the Emerging Conservation Leader Award for the work she has done with the students at W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences in Philadelphia. Her students have created a project called the “Biofuel Initiative,” which produced alternative energy solutions that have a positive impact on wildlife and the environment. Two other people were also honored: Hugh G. Moulton, Whitemarsh Foundation, and Dr. Serge Wich, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Below: Adam Rotwitt is fanning a sugar panda sculpture held by Alana Bly. The sculpture was created by Shan S. Ichiyanagi, a candy artist who flew in from California to create these works of art that can be eaten, too. But who would want to?

Below: Andrew J. Rosenthal flew in from Boston to attend the gala, as well as attend University of Pennsylvania’s homecoming events this weekend. He is currently in his second year at Harvard studying for his MBA. Here he is with his BFF, Maria Papadakis.

Below: Derek Wineburgh, Dana Roth, Jonathan Beatty and Kristin Kelly. Others spotted at the event included Robert Bogle, Brendan Kent, Manny Stamatakis, Richard Woosnam, Gary Steuer, Mayor Nutter, Jay H. Calvert, Jr., Ann Arader Scudder, Christopher Cashman, Lisa Gaudio and Jimmy Kazanjian, Julie Dorenbos, Erin Como, Susie Johnson (formerly Celek), Vasiliki Tsiouris, Mary Kent, Rhonda Hughes, Julie Lange and so many other people who are interested in conservation and saving our earth.