The Nashville Zoo brought back one of its most special events with the return of the Call of the Wild Dinner. The evening allows the organization’s most generous donors to meet and hear about the work of a prominent leader in the animal world. This year’s guest was Tara Stoinski, president, CEO and chief scientific officer for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. She has studied gorillas for more than 20 years and authored over 100 scientific publications and books.
The evening felt like summer as guests arrived, but it looked like fall under the tent, with tables draped in seasonal colors and topped with a variety of gourds. Names calligraphed onto magnolia leaves as place cards added a clever touch. The massive floral chandelier, abundant with hydrangea blooms, came from co-chair Laurie Seabury’s backyard, and co-chair Katie Crumbo was quick to point out that Laurie also assembled it. (Who says there aren’t hands-on co-chairs anymore?)
During a VIP reception, attendees were thrilled at the chance to chat one-on-one with Tara and excited to get up close with some of the animal ambassadors. Zoo regulars got to meet a new joey, Androo, but were a bit more cautious around Stanley, a rhinoceros hornbill, and Charlie, the prehensile-tailed porcupine.
The zoo’s Taste Catering prepared an outstanding African-inspired three-course meal of azifa, an Ethiopian lentil salad; tamarind short rib with pearl barley jollof and spiced charred carrots; and an Algerian makroud el louse with Key lime mousse for dessert. As wonderful as the meal was, all were spellbound as Tara spoke about her work at the fund and the successes they have achieved with respect to protecting the African gorilla population. Tara’s story tied in perfectly with the Nashville Zoo’s conservation efforts here and around the globe and showed how important the work is to all of us.