More than 200 followers and supporters of Goodall attended the $5,000-per-couple event, which benefited the Jane Goodall Institute — a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things.
“San Diego has enough money to be happy, but this is not about money,” said Goodall. “It’s about reaching the young people.”
During dinner, Goodall — a renowned primatologist who is largely known for defining the relationships between humans and primates — greeted the crowd in chimpanzee with a distinctive “pan hoot” call, which she likened to the sound of a howling dog. She said the greeting enables the individual caller to be identified in the wild.
Goodall, who has been compared to Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, then delivered a message of peace and called upon everyone in attendance to help educate and bring awareness to children around the world that humans are part of, and not separate from, the rest of the animal kingdom.
“We are forced into a role to change the way people think and we should be asking how our decisions will affect people in the future,” Goodall said. “When we do that, we can affect sustainable and positive change in the world.”
Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute supports habitat conservation and chimpanzee protection programs in Africa and runs the Roots & Shoots program, which supports tens of thousands of young people in 131 countries with projects that help people, animals and the environment.
Before the sun began to set, visitors were treated to a rare brush with nature as Goodall and Michael Mace, curator of birds for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, led a tour of the Lerach’s private tropical aviary overlooking the Pacific. The outdoor enclosure, which is on par with some of the finest zoos in the world, is home to more than 35 species of exotic birds of all sizes and types.
Erick Nyamohanga, president of World Rafiki Safaris in Tanzania, said people who have traveled the world in search of exotic birds are able to see more specimens at the Lerach’s aviary than in the species natural habitats.
“This is fabulous, this is a significant amount of space,” Nyamohanga said. “The birds are flying around, calling and they seem happy.
As the evening progressed, guests gravitated indoors and marveled at the diverse collection of museum quality tribal art, masks and sculptures, which seem to cover the entire expanse of the Lerach’s bluffside oceanfront La Jolla compound. An intimate dinner was then served poolside under the stars.
Master chef Andrew Spurgin designed the event and menu, while Authentic Flavors Catering brought his concepts to life. Spurgin said his vision was to create a fun and unassuming event that was relaxed and laidback. He explained that his goal was to not serve traditional African cuisine, but instead do a menu that embraced the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.
Dinner included seared Julian cider-brined, wild California salmon, topped with a Braeburn apple and lemon-thyme compote, served alongside sautéed shaved brussel sprouts, red cabbage, smoked Weiser Farm’s German butterball potato puree, with tarragon and wild rocket.
Along with banana sundaes for desert, instructions on how to properly peel a banana were handed out. Many in attendance were struck to learn that they have been peeling bananas incorrectly their entire lives. Goodall stood up and personally led a demonstration on how the process should be carried out.
For more information on the Jane Goodall Institute, visit www.janegoodall.org or by calling the U.S.A. headquarters at (703) 682-9220.