(Left to Right) Co-chair, Michael Kiner; President/CEO Stacey Johnson; Director of Development Sarah Clapp; guest speaker Joel Sartore

Themed with a festive nod to Hollywood’s Academy Awards, The Living Desert’s 2013 Zoocademy Awards Gala was a huge success, netting over $250,000.

“We are overwhelmed by the generous and enthusiastic participation of our supporters,” said Stacey Johnson, President/CEO of The Living Desert.  “Animal lovers will be happy to know the funds raised will go toward our mission of desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.”

The Living Desert’s annual gala is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year and was held Sunday, February 17, at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells.  Over 450 guests attended this year’s charity event, co-chaired by board member Michael Kiner and his wife Maria.  Featured guest speaker was National Geographic photographerJoel Sartore who is also a regular contributor to Time, Life, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated.

(Left to Right)  Joy Goldstein, Ruth Jorgensen, Ben Klopf – Living Desert Animal Keeper

Some of the attendees included former Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill, along with Peggy & Hal Bernthal, Donna MacMillan, Miriam Hoover, Jim Houston, BJ & Van Skilling, Priscilla Woolworth, and Patty & Jack Grundhofer. Also at the Gala were Harold Matzner & Shelley Reade, Nancy & Skip Burke, Connie & Robert Lurie, Joy Goldstein, Janet & Kirk Lanterman, and Debbie & Ron Schulman.

Another highlight of the event was the Zoocademy Awards presentation, emceed by Palm Springs Film Fest Executive Director, Darryl Macdonald.  The winning Living Desert animals were given meerkat statuettes for Best Costume, Best Original Soundtrack, Best Visual Effect, and Best Actress in a Dramatic Role.  After a humorous introduction, animal handlers brought each award-winning animal to the stage to accept their award.

For more information, visit www.LivingDesert.org or contact 760-346-5694.