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The Valley Line: Event proves to have animal magnetism

June 22, 2012|By Jane Napier Neely

While guests meandered through the zoo, they tasted fabulous foods prepared by more than 20 popular Los Angeles-area restaurants. Among the tasty delights to sample were the famous garlic bread from the Smokehouse, birria short rib tacos from Ix-Tapa Cantina & Grill, Green Street’s loved Dianne salad and zucchini bread, New England Clam chowder from Clancy’s Crab Broiler, Philadelphia cheese steaks and chipotle cheese steaks from Jersey Mike’s Subs in La Cañada, Pink’s famous hot dogs and the wildly popular mashed potato bar from Food Fetish Catering. The mashed potatoes are served up in martini glasses and the array of toppings to add to the mix is astonishing — bacon, sautéed mushrooms, corn chowder, boiled eggs, chives, sour cream and much more.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the desserts. Well, they went on and on and very deliciously so.

In between the food stations and the animals were silent-auction tables filled with so many tempting goodies to bid on.


Our meandering path finally led us to the plaza where the formal portion of the program. Makoto Taiko drummers got everyone’s attention. Comedian Jimmy Pardo was the evening’s emcee.

Connie Morgan, as well as John Lewis, opened up the program by greeting guests.

Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan and actress Sarah Michelle Gellar were honored and introduced during the program.

Riordan was recognized for his pivotal contributions to making the zoo an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife.

Gellar, a Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. Safari Club patron and an active advocate for various charities, received the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award recognizing members of the entertainment community who have excelled in establishing meaningful and lasting programs that contribute to the welfare of the world’s natural and our own civic environment.

Pardo led the spirited bidding on the live auction that included an opportunity to breakfast at L.A.’s legendary Pantry Restaurant and a “behind-the-scenes” tour and dinner at the zoo with Betty White that went to two bidders for $10,000 each.

This is truly an amazing party. Something to consider for next year!

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Let her know about your special events at

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