A passionate group of animal lovers, board members and zoo supporters — including Shelton residents —  are launching an elegant evening affair, designed to raise money to support the Connecticut Beardsley Zoo’s endangered species and enhance habitats. The Gala Committee, co-chaired by Kathy MacGhee of Shelton and Cathy Fell of Fairfield, is planning an Endangered Species Gala to be held on Nov. 3, at The Patterson Club in Fairfield.

“This is the first evening Gala held for the Zoo in a long time,” said MacGhee, committee co-chair. “Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is home to important species protection work that we wanted to celebrate. Once you realize the steps that are being taken by our Zoo to help sustain the future of wildlife, it’s impossible not to want to help them continue their work.”

The committee includes several volunteers from around the region, including Gail Craig of Shelton.

“The evening will feature cocktails, a seated dinner, a live and silent auction, and special entertainment. Come meet the Zoo’s animal ambassadors along with animal experts who can answer questions and share information about the Zoo’s mission,” said Co-Chair Fell.

The Gala’s Guest Speaker is Richard Weiss, world-class explorer, Emmy award-winning producer, and author of the book Born to Explore: How to be a Backyard Adventurer. Since he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 11, he has journeyed to all seven continents, tagging jaguars in the Yucatan jungles, leading expeditions to Australia’s Northern Territory and participating in the largest medical expedition ever conducted on Mt. Everest. Weiss is a resident of Westport, Conn.

The evening’s Master of Ceremonies is David Pogue, an American technology and TV science presenter. He is a personal technology columnist for Yahoo Tech, a tech correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, a columnist for Scientific American and a former technology columnist for The New York Times. Pogue has written or co-written seven books in the ‘For Dummies’ series (including Macintosh computers, magic, opera and classical music.) Pogue is also a resident of Westport, Conn.

The recent birth of a baby Giant anteater, two Amur tiger cubs and three maned wolf pups has helped to focus attention on the Zoo’s participation in the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a species management program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its member zoos.  Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is home to a number of endangered species, including two of the world’s rarest big cat, the Amur leopard, in addition to two Red wolves, Amur tigers, Chacoan peccaries, Golden-lion tamarins, Mexican wolves, and Red pandas. A number of other Zoo residents are considered vulnerable or threatened.

The Zoo is seeking sponsors for the event. From an exclusive presenting sponsorship priced at $25,000 to the Amur Tiger at $10,000, the Golden Lion Tamarin at $5,000, and the Red Wolf at $2,500, there are multiple opportunities for corporations and individuals to contribute. Interested supporters can contact Jessica Taylor, event fundraising coordinator, at 203-394-6574, or at jtaylor@beardsleyzoo.org.

“Today’s zoos are dedicated to conservation, research, education, and recreation,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “As animals continue to disappear in the wild, and as the “wild” itself disappears due to deforestation and human interaction, the role of accredited zoos becomes more important in ensuring our grandchildren can see a live tiger, for instance, instead of just a picture of what one used to look like.”

“Our mission to educate and contribute to conservation efforts is helped in a very large way by our volunteers and committee members,” Dancho added. “We’re grateful for their assistance.”

For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.org.