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ZSL London Zoo’s first ever fundraising gala proves the hottest ticket in town

London’s elite including fashion designer Elizabeth Emanuel, humanitarian Meera Ghandi, fashion photographer Ram Shergill, and former mayor of London Ken Livingstone turned out for gala dinner Safari in the City at ZSL London Zoo last night (Wednesday 21 May).

The first-ever fundraising gala held by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), launched the charity’s new Lions400 fundraising campaign and raised over £135,000 towards helping to save the magnificent Asian lions.   

The famous London landmark was transformed into an Asian-inspired wonderland for the night. Guests were immersed in an Indian themed adventure, arriving to the sound of drums before journeying through the Zoo on tuk tuks, and getting the privilege of visiting animal houses including Tiger Territory, Penguin Beach and the Lion Terraces after hours.  

Tables for the gala were snapped up by philanthropists eager to help ZSL raise £5.7m to protect and save the last 400 Asian lions left in the wild and create a state-of-the-art Asian lion hub and exhibit at ZSL London Zoo.   

Guests feasted on authentic Indian dishes including cashew chicken, vegetable samosas, lamb karahi, and rose and raspberry bhapi doi all prepared by brilliant chefs from the Zoo’s in-house caterers, Royal Warrant holders Ampersand.  

After dinner, Christie’s auctioneer Georgina Wilsenach encouraged guests to dig deep for lions and bid on incredible lots including artworks by acclaimed artist and Royal Academician Phyllida Barlow, and South Africa’s leading artist Keith Joubert. And even a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the last remaining Asian lions in the Gir Forest, India, accompanied by a ZSL conservationist all of which went down a storm with guests.  

The evening was hosted by television presenter and big cat enthusiast Simon King and featured a fantastic acoustic performance by Dan Gillespie-Sells of The Feeling.

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