The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's (GLAZA) 42nd Annual Beastly Ball is set for tonight, June 16, 2012, 6 pm, under the stars at the Los Angeles Zoo, announces GLAZA President Connie Morgan. The Honorable Richard J. Riordan, former Los Angeles Mayor, and actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award recipient, are being honored at the fund-raiser. The Ball traditionally attracts 1,000+ attendees and raises $1 million or more for the Zoo.
Gellar succeeds rock icon Slash, a GLAZA Trustee, who was last year's inaugural Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award. As a GLAZA Safari Club patron and an active advocate for various charities, she is an ideal honoree for the Award, which recognizes members of the entertainment community who have excelled in establishing meaningful and lasting programs that contribute to the welfare of the world's natural and civic environment. It was established in memory of former GLAZA Chairman Tom Mankiewicz, a beloved and highly regarded film and television writer and director associated with such films as "Superman," "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Live and Let Die," and the "Hart to Hart" television series, among many others, who passed away in 2010. Mankiewicz championed the cause of saving and protecting wildlife and the environment through education and on-the-ground conservation. He was additionally an advocate of charitable initiatives to promote opportunity for and interaction among the world's diverse communities.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is best known for her iconic role as Buffy Summers in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She wrapped her seventh and final season of the critically acclaimed drama in May of 2003. Gellar also originated the role of Kendall Hart on ABC's daytime soap opera "All My Children," which earned her a Daytime Emmy Award in 1995 for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series. Gellar recently starred in The CW series "Ringer," where she played a double role as beautiful twin sisters Bridget Kelly and Siobhan Martin. She has also starred in several notable film roles including "Cruel Intentions," "Scream 2," "I Know What You Did Last Summer" opposite husband FrEddie Prinze, Jr., and the blockbuster hit "The Grudge." No stranger to the world of voice over, Gellar has lent her voice in Liongate's "Happily N'Ever After," opposite Sigourney Weaver and FrEddie Prinze, Jr., and can be heard as the voice of April O'Neil in Warner Brothers' "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." In addition to her work in film and television, Gellar, a GLAZA Safari Club patron, is an active advocate for various charities, including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Project Angel Food, Habitat for Humanity, breast cancer research, and CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. She says, "I started because my mother taught me a long time ago that even when you have nothing, there's ways to give back. And what you get in return for that is tenfold." Most recently Gellar hosted an Operation Shower group baby shower for 40 expectant mothers with spouses that are deployed or seriously injured. Born in New York City, Gellar currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.
Riordan is being recognized for his pivotal contributions to making the Zoo an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. He maintains a long-term belief that a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a rare find within a vast city that provides a beautiful physical respite as well as a magical and educational journey to other worlds particularly for children living in urban neighborhoods with few opportunities for exposure to the natural world.