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The Taronga Foundation’s annual Zoofari has evolved into one of Sydney's great fundraising events, with the cream of Sydney society enjoying a swinging evening of great entertainment for a great cause: Taronga Zoo’s Chimpanzees.
Zoofari Evolution 2009 AD took place in a specially commissioned magical three-tiered marquee, which was transformed into a jungle oasis with huge tropical plants and a wall of bananas. Guests were greeted on arrival by some of the Zoo’s most appealing animals including Mr Munro the Fiordland Crested Penguin, Nonami the Wedgetailed Eagle and Nangaw the Powerful Owl. Attendees included Robert Clerc (who donated a pair of exquisite handmade screens), Veuve Cliquot Businesswoman of the Year Mandy Foley-Quin, and Taronga Foundation Governors Nigel Adams, Angus Hawley, Skye Leckie, Justin Miller, Gretel Packer and Deb Thomas.
Popular Channel 7 personalities Sara Groen and Tom Williams were the glamorous MCs. Speakers included Cameron Kerr, Taronga’s new Director, and zoo staff Lou Grossfeldt and Simon Duffy, who explained the complexities of chimp society and gave a brief overview of Taronga’s support for chimp conservation in Africa.
The indomitable Justin Miller hosted a lively auction – his last as Chair of Sotheby’s – with popular items including a sleepwear range named after your pooch (courtesy of pyjama-king Peter Alexander) which fetched $20,000, walking with the African Elephants at Taronga Western Plains Zoo and the chance to stay at Broome’s latest glamour resort as guests of the Paspaleys. Foundation Chairman Maurice Newman closed the formalites by thanking everyone, particularly Justin and the Zoofari Committee, chaired by Deborah Thomas.
At the end of the night guests hit the dancefloor to the heavy jungle beat of Monica Trapaga and George Washingmachine. Spied kicking up their heels were glamour gals Skye Leckie and Terry Schwamberg-Kaljo, who tripped the light fantastic with some Argentine tango.
Zoofari is a fun way to raise money for wildlife through Taronga’s breeding, education, conservation and research programs. The NSW government provides $3 for every $1 raised by the Foundation, making the total for the evening a staggering $1.92 million.
Proceeds will support Taronga Zoo’s new Chimpanzee exhibit, which will be home to what is renowned as one of the world’s largest and most successful chimpanzee families.