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Celebrating The Ford African Rain Forest

One of the Southeast’s most anticipated black-tie galas celebrates one of North America’s largest populations of western lowland gorillas at The Beastly Feast to benefit Zoo Atlanta on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, returns as the event’s Presenting Sponsor.

The 2018 theme is “Under the Canopy,” a celebration of Zoo Atlanta’s Ford African Rain Forest, which turns 30 this year. Janin and Tad Hutcheson serve as the event’s Co-Chairs. Beastly Feast Executive Committee members include Patron Co-Chair Tony Brewer; Patron Co-Chair Holli Cortelyou; Auction Co-Chair Kristen Gibbs; Auction Co-Chair Matthew Simon; Hospitality Chair Keven Lake; Ford Motor Company Fund representative Benna Logan; and Ford Motor Company representative Mark A. Street.

“The Beastly Feast is a spectacular and inspirational evening that provides crucial support for Zoo Atlanta and its conservation and education programs. We’re very grateful to Ford Motor Company for their more than three decades of consecutive support for this event,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “On May 5, we’ll celebrate all that this remarkable partnership has made possible, with an eye toward the future as Zoo Atlanta continues to evolve as a world-class organization.”

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from some of Atlanta’s top restaurants during a stroll through the Zoo, followed by a seated dinner and dancing in the Zoo’s Ford Pavilion, which will be transformed for the night by Tony Brewer & Company. An annual highlight of The Beastly Feast is its silent auction, featuring art, jewelry, home décor, antiques, travel opportunities, boxes at sporting and cultural events; one-of-a-kind Zoo experiences; and more.

“We continue to be very proud of the longtime partnership between Ford Motor Company and Zoo Atlanta,” said Benna Logan, Manager of Global Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Our tradition of supporting our community, promoting education, and working toward environmental sustainability are exemplified in partners like the Zoo.”

The 1988 opening of The Ford African Rain Forest was a landmark event for Zoo Atlanta and for the city of Atlanta, when the complex’s most famous inhabitant, the legendary late Willie B. the western lowland gorilla, stepped outside for the first time in more than 25 years. The Ford African Rain Forest’s gorilla population is now one of the largest in North America. The complex also includes The Living Treehouse, home to black-and-white-ruffed lemurs, crowned lemurs, ringtailed lemurs and a spectacular diversity of bird life, and The Monkeys of Makokou, home to Angolan colobus monkeys, drill monkeys, Schmidt’s guenons and Wolf’s guenons.

Twenty-three gorillas have been born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest. Research by Zoo Atlanta staff has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced the world’s understanding of gorillas, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Gorilla populations have plummeted in the wild since the time of Willie B. The species is now classified as critically endangered as a result of habitat loss, poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade and emerging diseases. Populations living within North American zoos are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations.

Zoo Atlanta is a Platinum Supporter of the AZA Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), a collective effort to preserve wild ape populations and to increase and sustain financial support from zoos for their conservation. For more than 20 years, the Zoo has supported its longtime partner in gorilla conservation, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, by providing pro-bono headquarters space, information technology support and financial resources.

In addition to its international reputation for the care and study of western lowland gorillas, Zoo Atlanta has also risen to leadership in the care of gorillas in a variety of life stages and situations. The Zoo was an early leader in the housing of male gorillas in bachelor groups, and Zoo Atlanta staff have become experts in the care of geriatric gorillas. Choomba, 55, and Ozzie, 57, are among the oldest members of their species, and Ozzie is the oldest living male gorilla in the world.

Visit to learn more about The Beastly Feast. To inquire about tables, tickets or corporate or individual benefits, call 404.624.5836.

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