The Los Angeles Zoo’s annual WILD FOR THE PLANET celebration kicks off on Earth Day weekend, Saturday, April 21, 10 am to 4 pm, and runs through Endangered Species Day on Friday, May 18, 2018. On weekends, the event features animal feedings, keeper talks and demonstrations; a conservation-themed aerialist show, puppet shows and other activities, fun and information focusing on the importance of protecting the environment and its creatures. In honor of international Year of the Bird, this year’s Wild for the Planet spotlights native plants and other plant species that support local birds and highlights the Zoo’s bird conservation achievements with five bird gardens throughout the grounds. Adults and youngsters can enjoy a day at the Zoo, home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, with special opportunities, entertainment, information and tips about everyday ways to sustain and preserve. All activities are free with paid Zoo admission. The full Wild for the Planet schedule is available at www.lazoo.org/wildfortheplanet
Among Wild for the Planet’s weekend activities are special animal feedings/ keeper talks and enrichment demonstrations at 1 and 2 pm featuring okapis and elephants (April 21), snow leopards and trumpeter swans (April 22); red river hogs and rattlesnakes (April 28), gorillas and cassowary (April 29); gorillas and pronghorn (May 5), Chacoan peccaries and Komodo dragons (May 6); bear and zebras (May 12) and tigers and condor (May 13). New this year is a spectacular aerialist show about bird conservation (11 am, 1 and 3 pm). Children and families can also learn how to make a positive impact on the environment during an interactive puppet show, presented by Swazzle, inspired by the L.A. Zoo’s own conservation efforts (11:30 am, 12:30 and 2:30 pm). An animal character makes guest appearances between 10 am and 3 pm, and “Meet-and-Greets” with the Zoo’s contact yard animals take place at 12 noon. Nature Journaling stations, open 10 am to noon and 2 to 4 pm, show guests the ins and outs of nature journaling and how to make new discoveries by looking closely at the plants and animals all around us, with focus on zebras (4/21), pronghorn (4/22), gorillas (4/28), orangutans (4/29), elephants (5/5), birds in the Zoo’s aviary (5/6), giant river otters (5/12) and markhor (5/13). Other activities include a “condor wings” photo op, a succulent station to learn about drought-tolerant plants and how to grow them, a bird-strike prevention station and an urban wildlife activity. Guests can find details about participating in the City Nature Challenge, a project organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences involving over 60 cities competing to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people.
On Saturday, May 12, when the Audubon network in the greater Los Angeles area holds “Bird L.A. Day” celebrating the biodiversity of the city’s birds, Wild for the Planet presents an education station introducing guests to birding as an important and tried-and-true form of citizen science. This activity emphasizes the Zoo’s mission to encourage people to care about the natural world around them by connecting them with animals in a personal and direct way.
A Conservation Expo with vendors on the weekends of April 21 and 22, April 28 and 29, May 5 and 6 and May 12 and 13 emphasizes local conservation efforts for the planet and animals. Participant booths include organizations such as City of LA Stormwater Program, LA County Smart Gardening Program, Earthwatch, L.A. Conservation Corps, Catalina Island Conservancy, California Condor Recovery Program , Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles County Public Works, Farm Fresh To You, The Friends of Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area – Ranger Troca, Heal the Bay, National Wildlife Federation, Ventana Wildlife Society, Aquarium of the Pacific, Friends of the L.A. River (River Rover) and Friends of Griffith Park.
Among daily activities during Wild for the Planet are the Zoo’s close-up “Animals & You” encounters as well as special feedings, intriguing talks and guided experiences. Visitors receive a Wild for the Planet “Activity Guide” that includes a map to the bird gardens, bird-themed activities, and other conservation information. Guests can also participate in the L.A. Zoo’s electronic device recycling program by donating an unwanted cell phone, smartphone, iPod, iPad, tablet or MP3 player at the green ECO-CELL bin in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza. Each contribution directly benefits animal conservation programs and reduces the demand for mineral mining that threatens the natural habitats of endangered animals such as the western lowland gorilla.
Wild for the Planet is among many events and activities embodying the L.A. Zoo’s commitment to conservation and sustainability. This spring’s Sustainable Wine+Dinner series features four unforgettable evenings at which the Zoo partners with local, environmentally friendly wineries whose wines serve as the inspiration for custom four-course, farm-to-table dinners set in a different location within the Zoo. Along with spectacular views, guests look at sustainability – from agriculture to food and wine production to wildlife conservation – and enjoy conversations with a curator or keeper, up-close animal encounters, and wine introductions from winery representatives. The Zoo’s annual Beastly Ball showcases the enormous impact the Zoo has on animal conservation both locally and internationally. This year’s signature fundraiser on May 19 takes place on the heels of national Endangered Species Day to underscore the Zoo’s commitment to saving animals from extinction. Animal expert Jack Hanna receives the prestigious Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award, and the evening features an exclusive concert under the stars with top-name performers and special animal experiences, including animal feedings, keeper chats and up-close interactions. Beastly Ball guests enjoy a rare after-hours stroll through the Zoo while dining on bountiful fare provided by some of L.A.’s most popular restaurants. Also featured is a mobile-bidding silent auction comprised of hundreds of remarkable items and one-of-a-kind opportunities.
Programming is subject to change.
The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing nearly 1.8 million visitors each year, is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. Its responsibility toward wildlife conservation not only encompasses safeguarding the animals in its care but also actively participating in the preservation of some of the world’s most critically endangered species and their habitats. The Zoo’s many conservation successes include having led the charge in saving California condors from extinction and restoring populations of these critically endangered animals to their native habitats. The Zoo’s lush grounds on 113 acres feature Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Among other highlights are an extraordinary, hands-on Hippo Encounter and face-to-face Giraffe Feedings; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and Muriel’s Ranch animal contact area; the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; a variety of daily opportunities to learn more about animals, including close-up visits, special feedings and intriguing talks; and much more. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children. As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.
Zoo admission, which includes all Wild for the Planet activities, is $21 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $18 for seniors (ages 62+), and $16 for children (ages 2 to 12). No ticket is required for children under age two. Admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free.
The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Free parking is available. For additional information, contact (323) 644-4200 or visit www.lazoo.org/wildfortheplanet