Countries came together, a president spoke and two teen-agers were hailed as heroes, all in the name of blue-footed boobies, swimming iguanas, giant sunflowers and, of course, very big tortoises.
It happened for the Gala'pagos Islands.
"The renowned and marvelous peace of nature, in its purest form, finds its grandest temple in the Gala'pagos," said Ecuador's president, Leon Febres-Cordero, at a reception last night in the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.
The Smithsonian, the Embassy of Ecuador and the Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation organization, were hosts of the reception for about 300 held to welcome Febres-Cordero and to announce that he was accepting the honorary chairmanship of the Campaign for the Gala'pagos Islands. The campaign was set up to preserve the environment of the islands, which lie off the coast of Ecuador and belong to that country.
"It's one of the world's natural treasures," said Bill Blair, president of the Nature Conservancy, "one of the truly unique natural areas of the earth." According to the conservancy, 20 to 30 percent of the Gala'pagos' marine species are found nowhere else in the world.
The campaign, which is seeking to raise $1.5 million, had about $500,000 in its coffers going into the reception. In his speech, Febres-Cordero announced that his government would contribute $150,000. Following him, Peter McPherson, administrator of the Agency for International Development, announced a matching $150,000 contribution.
The money will go for the removal of wild goats, pigs and dogs, which were introduced to the islands when settlers came in the late 1800s and have been threatening the eggs and food supplies of native species.
The Smithsonian's David Challinor, who has visited the islands several times, spoke of the importance of tourism -- 20,000 people travel there each year -- in educating the public.
"There's a little museum," he said, "and we give 'em a little spiel, and they can see how the turtles vary from island to island."
Sharing the bill with the Ecuadorian president were two teen-agers from Seattle. Rick Warner, 18, and his brother, Robin, 16, gave half of their earnings from summer jobs, a total of about $1,500, to the cause. The brothers Warner sailed around the islands in the spring of 1982 with their family and became committed to helping save the islands.
"If nobody does it now, nobody will do it ever," said Rick Warner after receiving a medal from Febres-Cordero.
When asked what he thought of this Washington reception, he said, "Well, this is the first time I've ever done anything like this."
And what's next for him?
"I'm going to take a year off and travel around the world."