The Zoo Ball – Reaching New Heights




By Judy Carmack Bross





Eugene Lenti, Kandace Lenti (Zoo Ball Civic Chair), Matthew Campbell, Bridget Campbell (Women’s Board President), Norman Kohn, Nina Winston Kohn (Zoo Ball Co-Chair), Angie Euston (Zoo Ball Co-Chair), Geoff Euston, Fran Edwardson (Chair of the Zoo’s Board of Trustees), John Edwardson


Over 800 guests and a famous family of lions couldn’t have had more fun recently at “Zoo Ball 2023—Reaching New Heights” hosted by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo.


“It was a spectacular celebration of Lincoln Park Zoo and all that it offers to our community,” Co-Chair Angie Euston told us this week.  “To date, we have raised close to $1.6 million dollars for the Zoo, though numbers are still being tallied from online donations- which people can still contribute- so we are hopeful we can say we raised even more for the Zoo.”


Lion cubs playing


Cocktail reception in the Pepper Family Wildlife Center



Lion watching was a highlight of the night, Co-Chair Nina Winston Kohn told us:  “The whole lion pride was having fun.  The three new cubs—Sidai, Lomelok and Pesho—older brother Pilipili who was born in 2022 were at the window and playful all night with Jabari and the lionesses supervising their antics. The pre-dinner cocktail reception in both the Pepper Family Wildlife Center and outside offered opportunities to watch the lion family. Great animals, great people, a spectacular décor, it was a stellar evening for all with the splendid mood throughout not to be forgotten.”


Zoo Ball is the zoo’s signature fundraising event. Considered by many as the al fresco extravaganza of the summer, Zoo Ball makes sure that free admission to Lincoln Park Zoo continues to be available to all, among other initiatives. More than three million people visit the Zoo each year.



Krista Coan, Trish Giannoulias, Angela Haggie, Christine Tierney


Post-dinner dance tent


The sensational Sunset Safari theme was captured in two tents—one for dinner and the paddle raise and the other for the post dinner reception and dancing, thanks to Vince Hart of Hart Designs. Guests posed with a concept EV-hybrid Jeep Wrangler Rubicon brought in by Jeep from Detroit, along with a 360-degree video offering just like Oscar Night and local distiller Take Flight Spirits offered signature gin and tonics for the sultry summer night.


Megan Ross (LPZ President and CEO) with Sunny Nelson (LPZ Vice President of Conservation and Science) and Daryl Nelson


Mary O’Brien Pearlman and Greg Pearlman


Rita and Louis Maltezos

Following Blue Plate’s perfect seasonal dinner starting with a chilled pea and mint soup, Alyssa Quinlan, CEO of Hindman Auctions, led a successful paddle raise, kicking it off with a fun “heads/tails” game to get the crowd energized.


A sudden summer storm didn’t dampen the spirits of the evening.


“It was a great evening where our guests, following the inclement weather, retired from the dance tent and continued to enjoy the festivities back inside the Pepper Family Wildlife Center. Guests were able to resume their camaraderie, could peruse our Wine and Spirits auction in the Pepper Center along with our Silent Auction items on screens throughout the evening,” Euston said.  “Later, tasty late-night bites were served.  As our guests departed, they picked up a custom Zoo Ball reusable Swag bag filled with fun and delicious  ‘urban safari’ items.”


Dinner Tent



 The impressive backdrop to all the fun is the Zoo itself which is grounded in purpose:  care, conservation, and community.  Animal care takes priority over everything, with onsite research teams, staff and volunteers providing care and promoting positive welfare for all animals.  With one of the largest zoo-based conservation and science programs in the country, the Zoo funds, supports, and leads research projects locally and globally.  Through engagement and education, the Zoo connects people and nature across Chicago and the larger global community.


The nation’s only privately managed admission free Zoo is led by new President and CEO, Megan R. Ross, PhD, the first woman to hold the position. Dr. Ross leads a mostly female executive team, who are building on its position as a global leader in animal welfare and conservation. A team of 40 scientists and experts lead programs that are working on behalf of wildlife in zoos and aquariums and in the wild. The zoo has full-time science teams on the ground in Tanzania and in the Congolese basin, helping to protect the habitat of African lions, gorillas, chimps and other enigmatic species.     


Locally, the zoo is deeply invested in partnerships in Little Village, North Lawndale and Austin, where they co-create initiatives with local residents in collaboration with nine partner organizations. The zoo is also home to the Urban Wildlife Institute and founded the Urban Wildlife Information Network, the largest project in the world studying urban wildlife and how wildlife and people co-exist and thrive in cities. The Network now includes 49 partner cities around the world and is providing critical science that will help the zoo build the wildlife friendly cities of the future.


The Women’s Board, headed by President Bridget Campbell, is comprised of 130 members, and planning and executing the Zoo Ball has been a nine-month project for its chairs.


“My grandchildren are visiting from Switzerland this week. They are four and seven and the Zoo will be one of our first stops,” Kohn said.  “Angie and I both bonded over giraffes, our favorite animals and a great Ball theme.  My grandson and granddaughter feel the same way and it will be great to be back at the Zoo and thanking the giraffes for inspiring such a memorable evening.”


Peggy and Brian White


Brigid M Najarian and Jon Najarian


Denise Stefan Ginascol and John Ginascol

For further information about The Lincoln Park Zoo, visit:


Photo credit: Kyle Flubacker Photography and John Reilly Photography