21 September 2023

Cricket canapés served to VIPs at our annual Safari in the City fundraising gala - raising £522,000 for wildlife

VIPs including our patron Geri Halliwell-Horner and David Walliams dined on bug bites and cricket canapés at last night’s annual Safari in the City fundraising gala – which raised more than £522,000 for our international conservation charity to bring wildlife back from the brink of extinction.

London Zoo rolled out the green carpet for the glitzy event, which saw 300 guests explore the conservation zoo. The first stop was at its Tiny Giants conservation centre to be served the sustainable snacks - made to demonstrate some of the changes needed to avert the extinction crisis.

Prepared exclusively by Benugo chefs, guests got a taste of mealworm tarts with mushroom and cress, and smoked beetroot and cricket with quinoa and pesto.

Our CEO Matthew Gould said: “We created a meal with a message for our annual fundraising gala. Some of our guests might have been a bit surprised to find worms in their canapes, but it’s a powerful way of demonstrating how our choices affect nature, and what the future needs to look like if we're to live better with wildlife. And the insect canapes were very tasty.” 

Guests joined our scientists, zookeepers and conservationists at the annual fundraising event, who shared the vital work the international conservation charity is doing to protect wildlife, before heading into the stunning safari-style marquee for the live auction, led by Lord Harry Dalmeny. 

Geri Halliwell with penguins
Matthew Gould
Geri Halliwell-Horner and ZSL CEO Matthew Gould

The VIPs also came face to face with species on the brink of being lost from the wild forever, including Asiatic lions, Sumatran tigers, Western Lowland gorillas and numerous species of coral – many of which we had rescuedafter being illegally traded on the international black market.

We care for 184 threatened species at our two conservation zoos, London and Whipsnade, including 17 species that are classified by the IUCN as extinct in the wild – meaning they now only exist in human care. These include the scimitar-horned oryx and partula snails, which are now being reintroduced to wild habitats thanks to our vital work with partners.  

Fundraising Director James Wren said: “With a million plant and animal species under threat of extinction, from habitat loss, poaching and climate change, we are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate - now more than ever, the natural world needs our help.  

“Last night’s Safari in the City fundraising gala, supported by Sky Nature, raised more than £522,000 for ZSL – vital funds that will support our work and our commitment to creating a world where wildlife thrives. 

ZSL gala 2023
David Walliams with penguins
Lord Harry Dalmeny (left), David Walliams (right)

“Guests bid on a range of incredible lots, including the chance to bid on a stay at the Four Seasons in the Serengeti and join a ZSL scientist in the field. The opportunity to name the Zoo’s next Western lowland gorilla baby, a Critically Endangered species, raised an incredible £40,000 as part of the evening’s live auction, while naming one of the Zoo’s newest residents a red panda cub - an Endangered species whose wild population continues to decline - raised an incredible £8,000.

“Since last night, our generous supporters have continued to pledge, and we expect this total to increase – which is a fantastic indicator of their passion for wildlife and recognition of the importance of our work. We urge others to lend their support by donating via our website” 

Find out more about our conservation work