Jim McGreevey and Ivanka Trump Enjoy the EcoHealth Alliance Benefit Gala

NEW YORK – The EcoHealth Alliance, formerly known as the Wildlife Trust, held their annual gala last night at The Rubin Museum of Art.  The organization, like the fascinating museum that hosted the event, remains a far too well kept secret. For over thirty years this important organization has focused its efforts on conservation concerns, looking for ways that humans and wildlife can share “bioscapes” while ensuring their mutual survival.  

A gathering of faithful ecologists raised $200,000 for this literally vital cause which will help support conservationists in more than a dozen countries, assisting in combating habitat loss, species imbalance, pollution and other human-induced ecological deterioration. The Rubin Museum, in the former home of Barneys on West 17th Street, provided an elegant setting, amidst treasures of Himalayan and Asian art.

A popular item in the live auction was the purchase of radio tags to be placed on and track endangered species, including fruit bats and orangutans.  Also offered was the opportunity to name a baby orangutan after a friend, a somewhat dubious gift once the passably cute baby simian has become a less than graceful adult – think Bert Lahr in the Wizard of Oz.  Two benefactors purchased naming rights at $4,000 apiece, and one wonders whether they will put them to mischievous use: after all, one could name the orangutan after an ex-spouse or a mother-in-law, with the victim none the wiser.

A surprising and wonderful late addition to the auction was the chance for four people to attend the full dress rehearsal of the Metropolitan’s upcoming performance of Billy BuddJohn Daszak, an English tenor with a dazzling voice, who just happens to be the brother of EcoHealth’s president, Dr. Peter Daszak, attended the gala evening and was persuaded by the auctioneer to provide an operatic sample of his skill.  Inviting his audience to “sing along” – and several of us did – he shook the rafters of the museum with a stunning rendition of Puccini’s chestnut from Turandot, Nessun Dorma. As they say, the crowd went wild. 

    Opera Singer John Daszak Sings Nessun Dorma