On Friday, September 13, the Birmingham Zoo hosted its largest annual fundraising event, ZooGala 2019: South American Sizzle ’n Samba, raising over $480,000 to benefit the Zoo’s animal care and education programs. Presented by IBERIABANK, the celebration was hosted by Honorary Chairs Phyllis and Larry Wojciechowski, Co-Chairs Jayna Goedecke, Amanda Hawkins and Stewart Jones, ZooGala Advisor Amanda Davis and members of the ZooGala Committee. Also greeting guests was IBERIABANK Birmingham Market President, Alex Morton. Held for the first time on the Birmingham Zoo’s spectacular, new Hugh Kaul Plaza, stunning South-American décor and vibrant colors created an over-the-top, festive “South American market”, complete with Brazilian-inspired street performers and dancers.
Guests dined on South American-inspired cuisine catered by Kathy G & Company amid magnificent decor by AG Events. Popular dance hits were performed by musical sensation Ascension and guests were delighted by Zoo Ambassador Animal Encounters throughout the evening. VIP guests were treated to exclusive access to an indoor/outdoor experience including the Zoo’s new upper patios and balcony overlooking the party. ZooGala’s always popular online auction was a hit again this year, offering an array of over 130 items and packages.
Phyllis and Larry Wojciechowski both surprised and thrilled attendees with the announcement of an additional $50,000 ZooGala gift as well as $25,000 in support of the PiCA (Passion Into Conservation Action) Program. In addition, IBERIABANK was honored for having served as Presenting Sponsor for the 10th consecutive year, contributing over $300,000 in support of ZooGala. Mr. Wojciechowski emphasized, “The animals entrusted to our care deserve the best and the funds raised by ZooGala are critical to meeting their needs. It is our privilege to support and help further our Birmingham Zoo’s mission to inspire passion to conserve the natural world.”