WATCH: Stars Aligned for Animals at 40th Anniversary Gala

WATCH: Stars Aligned for Animals at 40th Anniversary Gala

In Defense of Animals' 40th Anniversary Guiding Stars Gala was nothing short of magical. This spectacular gathering wasn’t just about bringing people together; it was about aligning stars — some of the strongest champions for animals — to celebrate four decades of unwavering advocacy.


A narrow dirt road in the beautiful, wild Santa Monica Mountains took guests to this celestial gathering — a fitting tribute to the challenging path we’ve led over 40 years of service to the animals. The reward for the journey was an intimate gathering and a stunning mountaintop view over the Pacific Ocean from the grounds of Rancho Del Cielo — a testament to the breathtaking beauty of nature that  In Defense of Animals is fighting to preserve. For some, it marked their first venture into formal wear since the onset of the pandemic, but all were drawn by a shared purpose.

Guests, including the evening’s honoree, the electronic dance music legend Moby, mingled, raising glasses filled with Immordl’s Nitro Super Coffee, and perused the silent auction items featuring unique items and experiences including artwork by Salvador Dalí, Sondra Rosenberg, and Denise Katz Howick. Under the canopy of fairy lights and stars, guests savored a 4-course vegan feast, masterfully crafted by Chef Dani, and were treated to a mesmerizing hula ceremony tribute to victims of the recent Hawaii Firestorm by Kūhai Hālau O Kapualaniokekukui Pā 'Ōlapa Kahiko, including In Defense of Animals’ own Campaigns Director, Lisa Levinson.

This wasn’t just any gala. Our host for the evening, In Defense of Animals’ vibrant Senior Director of People & Operations Director, Jane Elizabeth, emphasized that it wasn't about amassing a large crowd but creating a meaningful gathering — a powerful group of compassionate souls, united for an evening of celebration, heartfelt conversations, and forging stronger bonds. “This is about investing in and deepening our connections,” she shared. In this safe and serene space, guests were encouraged to bask in the moment, revel in the company, and cherish the serene environment, a representation of what we stand to protect.

Dr. Marilyn Kroplick, In Defense of Animals President since 2012, echoed the evening’s sentiment, emphasizing positivity as a driving force she has focused on bringing to the animal rights movement. Under her leadership, and with the foundation laid by In Defense of Animals founder Dr. Elliot Katz, the organization has awarded many, including Zohra Fahim, Jeffrey Mausner, U. S. Congressman Brad Sherman, and Moby, for their tireless and impactful contributions to the cause. Touchingly, In Defense of Animals’ staff surprised Dr. Kroplick by giving her the final award for the evening.

The Guardian Award is given for outstanding and historic work to highlight animal rights and is among the highest honors the animal rights world can bestow upon a person. 

Previous recipients have included a handful of the most impactful animal proponents, including American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

Guardian Awards 2023

Taleen Keuroghlian, Field Representative for Congressman Brad Sherman, accepted his award. Sherman represented the Sherman Oaks district and is currently serving his fourteenth term in Congress. Since he started serving in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1997, he has earned a 100% rating for his sensational track record of supporting animal rights and advocating for legislation aimed at protecting animals. He has done a tremendous amount of work advocating for animals, the environment, and for peace.

Zohra Fahim is President and Founder of Los Angeles Alliance for Animals and regularly works with In Defense of Animals to help animals in the area. She led a campaign with In Defense of Animals, along with other animal rights groups and local activists, to successfully shut down the abusive Griffith Park and Pony Ride and Petting Zoo. This 74-year-old operation exploited elderly ponies for rides and regularly failed to provide basic welfare such as shelter, water, and veterinary care. Fahim has gained attention from multiple large media outlets in Los Angeles (and internationally) on the plight of the animals at Griffith Park and Pony Rides and Petting Zoo.

Jeffrey Mausner is a retired attorney and law professor. He served as a trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice, where he received awards for his work prosecuting Nazi war criminals. Jeff is a founding member of In Defense of Animals’ Global Anti-Dog Meat Coalition. He has worked to end the brutal dog and cat meat trade in which tens of millions of dogs and cats are tortured and killed each year, successfully sponsoring resolutions in neighborhood councils, then lobbying the Los Angeles City Council and its mayor to pass a resolution making it the official position of Los Angeles to oppose dog meat worldwide. Jeff believes that animals and the people who care about them should have a voice in the city government, and has worked tirelessly to better the lives of animals near and far.

Moby has sold 20 million records and is among the most important dance music figures in the world. He has been a vocal advocate for animal rights for many years, constantly using his platform to raise awareness for animals and the environment. Moby's music regularly covers themes related to animals and the environment. He has dedicated entire albums to animal rights and regularly uses his art to convey powerful messages about animal suffering and the need for change. Moby has joined with animal organizations numerous times to advance specific animal issues, including ending animal testing for cosmetics and supporting In Defense of Animals’ 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants list to expose the suffering of Earth’s largest land mammals trapped for entertainment. Moby's contributions to animal rights make him a true guardian of animals, which is why we’re delighted to award him our prestigious Guardian Award.

On accepting his Guardian Award, Moby said, “There are now more vegan restaurants within like a five-minute walk of my house… than there were in the entire world 36 years ago, which leads me to just simply say briefly, thank you to everyone here for all of your tireless work and activism working on behalf of animal rights is my life's work and I hope it is yours as well. And thank you guys for everything that you do as well.”

Actress Ashley Jackson said, “I am so in awe of the work that IDA has been doing to support animal rights and to support us living our best lives on this planet as we can for all beings and so I'm just really happy to be here tonight.”

The Game Changers filmmaker, James Wilks said, “Congratulations so much on 40 years of amazing work, and I appreciate everything you do.”

Actress Harley Quinn Smith said, “I'm so insanely grateful for all the work that IDA has done and it's such a beautiful opportunity to come together with so many compassionate, kind humans and share this wonderful celebration together. I'm so happy to be here and I'm so excited to celebrate everything that IDA has done.”

Tanya O’Callaghan, Whitesnake band member and co-host of Derrick & Tanya's Highway to Health said, “Forty years, congratulations, IDA! And keep up the amazing, amazing work because we absolutely need it and the animals need it and the planet needs it, congratulations.”

Beyond the awards and celebrations, the heart of the event was the mission: standing up for animals. Guests left not just with gift bags but with a profound understanding of In Defense of Animals’ multifaceted campaigns. From ending the cruelty of rodeos, championing the campaign to end animal testing, to stopping the fur trade, the In Defense of Animals legacy is far-reaching. 

As the night drew to a close, the message was clear: we've come far, but the journey isn't over. The animals of the world still need our voice, our passion, and our support. 

We’re not yet done celebrating 40 years of In Defense of Animals, so stay tuned for more opportunities to participate. We urge everyone to join hands and keep this constellation shining bright. Please consider making a gift of $40 or any amount to support our invaluable work here.

If you are a current monthly giver or if you set up a recurring donation from now through October, you’ll be automatically entered into our prize draw to win animal-friendly, plant-based goodies. 

Thank you for helping us ensure the guiding stars of animal advocacy always shine brilliantly in the sky.