Wild party for the National Zoo hosted by Jim Kimsey

April 18, 2013

Wild party at Jim Kimsey’s McLean mansion — and for once, we mean that literally.

WASHINGTON DC - APRIL 17 - HANDOUT IMAGE: Moya and Jim Kimsey at a fundraiser for the National Zoo Tuesday night. (Tony Powell) FOR ONE TIME USE ONLY. NO SALES.
Moya and Jim Kimsey at a fundraiser for the National Zoo Tuesday night. (Tony Powell)

 

Kimsey invited 50 friends for a hands-on fundraiser Tuesday to drum up support for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. That included a cocktail party, dinner and speeches — and some not-so-standard guests of honor: A cheetah, wallaby, penguin, armadillo and baby foxes.

“The idea is to invite people who have a natural affinity for animals — and have checkbooks to match their love of the animals,” explained Kimsey. The two-legged VIPs got up close and personal with the exotic animals, hand-raised by the Columbus Zoo to travel around the country for education and conservation programs — and help raise money for local zoos.

WASHINGTON DC - APRIL 17 - HANDOUT IMAGE: Trout, a black-footed penguin, walks through the cocktail party at the zoo fundraiser. (Pam Jenkins) FOR ONE TIME USE ONLY. NO SALES.
Trout, a black-footed penguin, walks through the cocktail party at the zoo fundraiser. (Pam Jenkins)

The National Zoo, facing budget cuts from the sequestration, is looking to beef up the coffers for its’ 125th anniversary next year. To that end, the board is looking for more deep-pocket private donors. “We have been dependent on the American taxpayer for a lot of our budget,” Zoo Director Dennis Kelly told the crowd. “We need to grow like a great university.”

Then he introduced Moya, who joined the party after dinner. The three-year-old cheetah plopped down on a table just a few feet from the other guests and began to purr loudly (think Italian race car) while his handlers took questions. Nothing to fear, they explained: Unlike lions and tigers, cheetahs don’t see humans as prey because they’re too big.

Boyden Gray with a baby wallabee at the Kimsey National Zoo Dinner. (Roxanne Roberts/TWP) FOR ONE TIME USE ONLY. NO SALES.
Boyden Gray with a baby wallaby at the Kimsey National Zoo Dinner. (Roxanne Roberts/TWP)

Moya is so tame that he posed for individual pictures with all the guests — who quickly cleared out shortly after the cat and his handlers called it a night. “When the cheetah leaves,” shrugged Jim Garrity, “the party’s over.”

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