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The Zoo Goes Wild at the 'Oasis'


“Without a doubt, the most fun party of the year,” said Sheri Jamieson. 930 plus patrons agreed,

The San Diego Zoo party brought out throngs of animal loving and supporting guests June 20 for the Zoo’s RITZ aka Rendez Vous In the Zoo party. The invitation requested black tie or elegant animal attire, and that’s just how invitees dressed.

Jeanne Jones wore a unique multi-hued Jordan Art Couture. Jordan designs are hand painted. Jeanne’s was one shoulder cut on the bias.

Chair Chris Andrews in Talbot Runhoff with Co-Chair Lisa Casey in Monique Lhouillier accompanied by Mongo the Camel


Others wearing Jordan were Barbara Kjos in a tawny tiger theme, Susan McClellan wore a vibrant red tiger gown, Zoo Conservation Ambassador Joan Embery wore a brilliant blue tiger dress, big zoo supporter Audrey Geisel wore a flowing flamingo coat,  Diane Clarke wore a lion, Judy Wheatley wore a mountain lion, Darlene Shiley wore a beautiful lion wrap, Jordan the designer wore a sunset orange one shoulder gown with a border of elephant motifs, Zoo President Berit Durler wore an owl, and Joanne Warren wore a baby gorilla ensemble.

Joanne’s baby gorilla gown appropriately is in honor of the newly born Zoo gorilla named Frank after Joanne’s husband. The Warren’s are not only sponsors of the gorilla, but they were Honorary Chairs of this event as well.

More there enjoying a bountiful reception of appetizers, cocktails and mingling were Emma Zuckerman in a dazzling animal print gown by Naeem Khan. The waist was cinched by beadwork and the neckline was ruffled and high. Ruffled, wavy and high was Emma's elegant up-do coiffure too!

Elaine Lipinsky wore a pretty blue cheetah jacket and trousers by Jordan. But it was Elaine’s nails that added a fun twist. They were meticulously manicured each with an oasis to match the party’s theme ‘Midnight at the Oasis.’

Guests enjoyed educational introductions by Zoo trainers to Mongo the camel, Cruizer the Macaw, and Kramer the cheetah.

The evening continued to the ‘Zoofari Party Area’ for a Chef Steve Black dinner and dancing to the incomparable Wayne Foster Orchestra.

And dance they did. Table party favors included Arabian scarves and bracelets with shimmery ‘coins.’ They were quite popular as noted by Sheryl White. “The décor was very nice!  There were scarves with dangly coins along the edge wrapped around the backs of every other chair.  Many women wrapped the scarves around their hips (and a few men!) and proceeded out to the dance floor. Their inner belly dancers were outed, very cute!  Everyone seemed to have a blast!"

Pat Whalen shimmied and danced beautifully and so did Place Tegland. They were joined by hundreds and it was all for a great cause.

Funds raised by this evening will go towards Tiger Trail a new Asian forest habitat that will be home to the critically endangered Sumatran tigers, rare hornbills and binturongs, an Asian bearcat.

Chair Chris Andrews and Co-Chair Lisa Casey with their committee did a terrific job as noted by Jeanne Jones. “Entering the ballroom for Midnight at the Oasis was like stepping into an enchanting and opulent dream---  it was indeed a memorable night at the RITZ!”

“We thought 2009 RITZ was spectacular! The theme- Midnight at the Oasis- was perfect for the lush Zoo setting- belly dancers, a camel, lots of people at the "watering hole ", and lavish food and décor” said KK aka Katherine Kennedy and Robert Horsman. “The chairs are to be applauded for giving us an oasis in some very ‘dry’ economic times!” KK added she woke up with the belly dancer bracelet still on her wrist!”


More party highlights:

The Chef Steve Black dinner included an heirloom tomato salad with sherry-dijon dressing. The entree was a garlic roasted beef tenderloin, and a wickedly decadent chocolate mousse pyramid for dessert.

Artist Christina Walker and Liz Smith with a team provided the Midnight at the Oasis murals for the gala background.

Co-Chair Lisa Casey was accompanied by a very young David Casey. Not her husband. That was David her son, as her husband, also David Casey, regrettably was sick that evening.

When asked if she had any animals at home Debbie Turner said no. But she and beau Conrad Prebys do have a number of elephants that they sponsor at the Zoo.

Jeanne Jones had a sprained knee but wouldn't miss the Zoo party. Jeanne relied on the sturdy arm of husband Don Breitenberg, a Normandy Purple Heart awarded paratrooper hero, who was looking 'animal dapper' in an animal print vest.

UT columnist Diane Bell got the lucky winning bid for a Jordan designed coat. She's thrilled!

More beautiful gown highlights included Chris Andrews in Talbot Runhoff, Lisa Casey in Monique Lhoullier, Dianne Bashor wore a beautiful black ruffled gown by Fe Zandi, Jennifer Greenfiled wore an animal print Dolce & Gabbana, Maree Mossmer wore Naeem Khan with cap sleeves, Noni Senyei wore J. Mendel, Colette Stefanko wore an Asian themed Sue Wong, Sheryl White wore Carolina Herrera, Connie Basterasche wore a fetching hareem outfit, Joyce Grosvenor wore animal print, and Karen Cohn wore Angel Sanchez. And they all wore it well!


Great Quotes from the evening::

"Every year it gets better and better, even the weather cooperated." -   Pat Whalen

"The party had a wonderful energy to it and we had a wonderful time dancing until the wee hours to the Wayne Foster orchestra. What a GREAT event!!!!  Joan Embery, ambassador animals, fabulous food, and Wayne Foster Entertainment.  It just doesn't get any better than this!Lisa Casey did a wonderful job as chair this year with the whole Moroccan concept. Everyone was dancing decorated with the multi-colored and bejeweled chair fabrics tied around their waists. Very colorful and evocative of another place." -  Karen Cohn


"The 2009 San Diego RITZ, Midnight at the Oasis was a fun-filled, high energy extravaganza.  The beautiful colors, exotic animals, belly dancers, musclemen , and the fantastic entertainment by the Wayne Foster Orchestra helped to make it a magical evening.  It was like a dream that enveloped everyone in the thrill of being surrounded by sets designed to evoke the  feeling of being in a colorful desert oasis where the animals are happy and the flowers are blooming , the food and wine are flowing and everyone is ready to have fun.  It was a thrill to work with such a wonderful co-chair such as Chris Andrews and our dedicated team of volunteers.  My head and heart wanted to stay all night, but at midnight, my feet were telling me that it was time to go . . . . . " - Lisa Casey

"Craig and I cannot do enough to assist the amazing and deeply committed staff of experts at the Zoo and Wild Animal Park in San Diego.  The time has come to do everything necessary to help insure that our future families can experience, enjoy,  and most importantly, learn,  from the beautiful & vast animal kingdom.  We take every possible opportunity to help our children understand the need for tolerance and protection of so many species near extinction.   It's sad to think that when our children are grown, they may never see a Polar Bear or a Condor in the wild...." – Joyce Grosvenor


Funds raised from this evening are expected to be significant with Joanne and Frank Warren generously providing a matching 2-to-1 donation of $500,000. Great news for the Zoo!


To learn more about the San Diego Zoo please visit

Lisa Casey with her son David Casey ** Don and Linda Swortwood

A belly dancer ** Kristi Pieper Rossbacher

The back of Audrey Geisel and her 'Flamingo' by Jordan ** Dianne and Jim Bashor

Ed and Connie Basterasche ** Jordan in Jordan

Craigar and Joyce Grosvenor admiring a miniature horse

Martha Erlingher with David Nelson ** Mimi Swenson ** Craig Swenson with Nancy Borrelli

Chris Andrews with Joan Embery and Lisa Casey

Jim Ross with Place Tegland ** Jennifer Greenfield

Craigar and Joyce Grosvenor

Jordan in Jordan ** Dan Moore and Diane Clarke

Diane and Peter Yanofsky with Jennifer Greenfield

Constance Hughes with Rick Wildman ** Vicky Eddy with Jennifer Greenfield

An endearing koala

David Masterjohn

Jordan with David Masterjohn

Dianne and Jim Bashor ** Jeanne Jones and Don Breitenberg

Trainer with Cruizer, Judy Wheatley and Jordan

Zoo President Berit Durler with Jordan ** Elaine Lipinsky

Carol Chang with Lauren Resnik

Dr. Jeffrey Chang with UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and Bob Resnik

Leo and Emma Zuckerman ** Susan McClellan

Maree Mossmer and Colette Stefanko

Debbie Turner and Conrad Prebys

Sheryl White with Karen Cohn ** Sheryl and Harvey White

Craig and Mimi Swenson with Nancy Borrelli

The entrance to dinner and dancing!

Craig and Susan McClellan ** Leo and Emma Zuckerman

A table centerpiece with mural in the background

Audrey Geisel with Dr. Stuart Jamieson and his wife Sheri Jamieson


Darlene Shiley with Lou Spisto of the Old Globe

The floral base of the table centerpieces

Mel and Linda Katz

Barbara Colbrese dancing with her daughter Erica Colbrese ** Nick and Barbara Colbrese

Audrey Geisel and Alex Butterfield heading to the dance floor ** One table bringing out 'the inner belly dancer' as Sheryl White would say

Drew Senyei turning up the heat ** Barbara Kjos

Harry and Teresa Hixson

Noni Senyei

Place Tegland ** Pat Whalen ** Audrey Geisel

Claudia Johnson with Jeanne Larsen and Pat Whalen

reported by Margo Schwab

who is proudly wearing a Jordan Art Couture Cheetah dress (because Jordan supports animals) with matching sock 'spats' and Kevin designed animal enamel jewelry, pictured here with the San Diego Zoo's Conservation Ambassador Joan Embery who is also dressed in a Jordan.

and just to show you Scott Johnston and Kima's matching Jordan outfits!!... pictured here in L.A.!

For more coverage on SDNN click here Zoo


The Buzz

The Social Diary's Scott Johnston had 30 plus Extreme Pizzas of La Jolla delivered to San Diego Police Department's Northern Division as a thank you for all the people who watched his back..... and who watch yours!


Upcoming Events


July 16th - Dr. Hugh M. Davies, the David C. Copley Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, will lecture on contemporary painter Francis Bacon. Please visit for details.


July 18th - Patrons of the Prado Gala will be held in Balboa Park. This year the beneficiaries are San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Natural History Musuem and Timken Museum of Art. Elisabeth Bergan and Anita Crider will be the Co-Chairs. Visit for details.


July 30th - 'After the Finish Line's' summer fundraiser, A Tribute to the Majesty of Thoroughbreds. This organization rescues and places unwanted former race horses with new loving owners. Please visit


August 1st - Old Globe Gala will host its black tie soiree to coincide with the production of the First Wives Club. Please visit for more details.


August 8th - Las Patronas will host its Silk & Spice themed Jewel Ball at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Jennifer Greenfield is the Chairperson. Please visit for more details.


August 15th - The 'Catch the Royal Wave' will be the theme for the Fur Ball at the San Diego Humane Society. This event welcomes well behaved dogs on leash. For more details about this event, please visit

August 23rd - The Country Friends will host Hats and Flats at the San Diego Polo Club.... details to come!


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October 16th - Rainforest Alliance, details to follow.   


September 14th - Crime Stoppers Golf Tournament. 


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Email Commentary to be added


Thank you. How beautiful! I so enjoy your email - Tina Real

Nice posting - really great photos!  Some absolutely gorgeous
attire.CONGRATS to Scott and to you on the retirement.  Your support and his
courage, collectively allow us to enjoy our environment.  Enjoy your
time together! - Tiffany Emery

Love it! - Vince Heald

Can you please put me on your mailer list.
Thanks, loved your outfit at the zoo gala. - Diane Boudreau

Thank you for the wonderful photos !  xo Kristi Pieper Rossbacher

Congratulations writing for San Diego New Network too. It will be a wonderful site. Thanks Susie Spanos

Thanks great articles!  And Beautiful photos! - KK aka Katherine Kennedy

Thank you! - Joanne Leidenberger, San Diego Zoo go Zoo

Party Archives




* Margo Schwab, more formally known as Margaret E. Schwab, has produced, written, interviewed and photographed for various media organizations since 1989. Schwab attended Holton Arms School, La Jolla Country Day School and La Jolla High School. Schwab has a B.A. from Scripps College, spent a business internship with S.A.I.C., Science Applications International Corporation, and earned a Masters of Business degree, M.B.A., from the University of San Diego. Schwab additionally took college courses from Harvard University, and Syracuse University. Schwab volunteers for numerous charity organizations. She also continues to support animal organizations and the prevention of people and animal abuse. Schwab is the editor of The Social Diary.

The Social Diary is pleased to announce new partnerships with the San Diego Humane Society and San Diego News Network.



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