David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

13 June 2011

Fortunate in our sky...

The first rain came on late Thursday, almost evening. That was the date for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s annual gala benefit which is always held in the pavilions surrounding the seal pool in the Central Park Zoo at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue.

On beautiful sunset evenings in June, the terraces around the pool are a great venue for a large cocktail reception before dinner. It’s a black tie affair and the last one of the season.

This year’s theme for Gala 2011 was Elephants and Ivory. The gala’s press release called it a “celebration to save important remaining elephant populations around the world.” Although “celebration” sounds a bit premature considering the task.

They honored Sir Iain Douglas-Hamilton who is the Founder and Director of Save the Elephants. I am always in awe of people such as Sir Iain, who make their life work preserving the life and eco-systems of our planet.

Sir Iain has made it his life to understand the elephants, and their decisions -- highly intelligent as they are. His objective is to get us to become more aware and build support to ensure the future of the elephants, never ruling out the possibility that we might learn how to do the same for ourselves.

Thursday night’s celebration began at 6:30. At about ten to seven, as guests were arriving, the skies opened up and it was a great day for the seals. Nevertheless the event planners at the zoo had anticipated such inconveniences for the homo sapiens expected, so everyone was safely sheltered from the storm. It was a New York stellar crowd, not surprisingly as the WCS is one of the great conservation philanthropies.

The evening’s honorary chairs were Mary and Howard Phipps, Jr. Co-Chairs were Alejandro Santo Domingo, Gillian Hearst Simonds and Christian Simonds, Faith and Peter Coolidge, Renee Harbers and Chris Liddell, Edith McBean, Margaretta Taylor, Melanie and John Wambold, Priscilla and Ward Woods. 

Gala Leadership: Katie and Peter Dolan, Bill Flaherty, Sunny and Brad Goldberg, Darlene and Brian Heidtke, Janet and John Irwin, Allison Morrow and Jonathan Cohen, Dailey and Gordon Pattee, Louise and Leonard Riggio, Lisa and David Schiff, Virginia and Warren Schwerin, Coty Sidnam and Derek Huntington, Pamela and Renke Thye, Ann and Andrew Tisch, Barbara and Donald Zucker. 

The beautiful jungle-exotic décor was provided by Preston Bailey, and DJ Cassidy brought the music.

To learn more Sir Iain’s work,
click here.

Alison Minton and Michel Witmer