Where Dreams Take Wing: Committee Announced for Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Annual Gala

When a passionate group of animal lovers, board members, and Zoo supporters get together, the outcome is a fun and festive way to raise funds for Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. A group of women and men from around the region have joined forces to create the Zoo’s fourth in-person Gala, this year celebrating the multi-generational impact the Zoo has had on conservationists of all ages. 

The elegant evening affair, designed to raise money to support the Zoo’s mission of conserving critically endangered species, will be held on November 11, 2023, at the Inn at Longshore in Westport. This year’s Gala will feature cocktails, a seated dinner, silent and live auctions, musical entertainment, and animal encounters at a beautiful venue on the water. 

The evening’s program will feature representatives of the Zoo’s Conservation Discovery Corps, an award-winning teen program, with remarks from Jennifer Farrell, the recipient of the Zoo’s Achievements in Conservation Award. Farrell will talk about Monarch Watch, a Citizen Science program that collects valuable data to study the declining population of Monarch butterflies. 

The evening’s emcee will be Chris Rowlands, a popular musician, songwriter and entertainer with a long history of supporting the Zoo through his family-oriented stage shows each summer.  A native of Connecticut, Rowlands’s signature entertainment style creatively blends music, comedy and education to create fast-paced shows that teach and inspire young people. 

Committee members include Sue Amatrudo of East Haven; Judi Cardello, Lisa Clair and Audrey Delfoe of Fairfield; Teresa Nakouzi of Hamden; Chip Dumais, Dean DeBiase, Lisa Croce Jackson and Ashley Volkens of Milford; Lisa DeGoursey of Orange; Jennifer DiBlanda of Prospect; Antonio Rodrigues of Stratford; Nadine Green of Thomaston; Bernadette Baldino of Trumbull; and Brooke Hopkins of Woodbridge

“The Gala is a celebration of the Zoo’s wildlife conservation achievements, inspiring supporters who are passionate about protecting the natural world,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “As animals continue to disappear in the wild, and as the “wild” itself disappears due to climate change, deforestation and human-wildlife conflict, the role of accredited zoos becomes more important in ensuring the future of endangered species.”

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE),  species management programs administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its member zoos.  Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is home to a number of endangered species, including Amur leopards, American red wolves, Mexican grey wolves, golden lion tamarins and red pandas. Many other Zoo residents are considered vulnerable or threatened. 

The Zoo is seeking sponsors for the event. Beginning with an exclusive presenting sponsorship priced at $25,000, there are multiple opportunities for corporations and individuals to contribute. Interested supporters can contact Ashley Volkens at 203-394-5522, or at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More information can be found at https://www.beardsleyzoo.org/gala.html.

* Committee Photo Credit:  Jack Bradley


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