Animal lovers from across Los Angeles and beyond turned out for the 17th Annual Wild Brunch in Malibu to support the California Wildlife Center. In addition to to rescuing and rehabilitating injured and sick wildlife, the Calabasas-based center promotes the protection of wild habitats and the environment through education and training.
“This event is so important, not only for public outreach and getting our name out there but also for fundraising,” said Jennifer Guess, senior wildlife technician for the center. “We are 100 percent donation based, so without outside funding, we wouldn’t be able to do the work we’ve been doing.”
Since its founding in 1998, the center has cared for 32,000 native animals. Jeff King, marine program manager, says this year alone, the center has rescued over 300 animals. “This year was definitely the highest number of rescues we’ve ever had ever,” he said.
King believes the main reason for the increase is due to higher ocean temperatures. “The water off our coast is five or six degrees warmer than usual which causes the fish to leave [for cooler water],” he explains. Unlike adult pinnepeds, the seal and sea lion pups aren’t strong enough to swim further or dive deeper for food and begin to starve. The marine program has had a high success rate of rehabilitating the pups and returning them to the ocean.
Held at the Gull’s Way Estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the festive affair featured gourmet vegetarian spread, wine tasting and scrumptious desserts.
Actor Eric Roberts and wife, Eliza, say they try to come every year to support the center. “We go to the California Wildlife [Center] whenever there’s animal on our property that’s injured,” said Eliza.
The couple maintains a squirrel sanctuary on their property. “Every event is important, because it brings awareness to the issue that we have to help the animals,” said Eric.
The event’s kid area featured arts and crafts, a photo booth and food bar. Gabrielle Frank of Malibu brought along her sons, Augie, 7, and Jonah, 4 1/2. “This is among the top three charities to give to here in Malibu,” she said.
For more information about the center or to make a donation, go to www.cawildlife.org/.