The Marine Mammal Center Recognizes the Extraordinary Contributions of Former Chairman Merrill Magowan During its 14th Annual Gala

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Rehabilitation hospital for rescued seals and sea lions will hold its Annual Gala and Live Auction at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on October 14. Supporters will honor Mr. Magowan for his tenacity, passion, and commitment to the oceans and its inhabitants, and for his incredbile contributions to The Marine Mammal Center.

"I am fascinated by what makes marine mammals sick and how there are parallels in the human universe,” said The Marine Mammal Center’s former Chairman Merrill L. Magowan.

The Marine Mammal Center celebrates its 14th Annual Gala and Live Auction with a salute to former Chairman Merrill L. Magowan on Thursday, October 14, at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The Gala event starts at 6 P.M. and will include cocktails, a formal dinner, music, a live auction featuring many one-of-a-kind items to bid on, and a look at Mr. Magowan’s significant accomplishments on behalf of the Center. The Gala is the Center’s single largest fundraising event of the year, and proceeds will support much-needed funds for food and medical treatment, as well as many other supplies used to run the animal care hospital, research and education center. Tickets for the Gala and Live Auction can be purchased online at

“My wife Cinnie and I are proud of the long tradition our families have of sharing our resources and contributing toward positive change to improve the communities we live in,” said The Marine Mammal Center’s former Chairman Merrill L. Magowan. “I was drawn to the Center’s work because of my lifelong interest in animal welfare and the strength of the scientific staff advising the Center. It is the work of The Marine Mammal Center that is a welcome reminder that what we do to the oceans, we are ultimately doing to ourselves as a community, and without organizations like the Center we would never know what ails seals and sea lions and how we are all connected to them and their ocean home.”

During his time as Chair, Mr. Magowan dramatically improved the Center’s ability to complete a $32 million fundraising campaign to rebuild the Sausalito headquarters. He led the Center in raising 90% of the funds from sources who had never donated to the organization before, and in many cases, had not heard of The Marine Mammal Center until he made the introductions. In all, he raised $16 million of the $32 million for the capital campaign – something that would have taken the Center much longer to achieve had it not been for his tenacity, his connections, and his passion for the Center’s work. Now that the Center, which re-opened to the public on June 15, 2009, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art hospital and educational visitor center, its visibility and recognition have grown locally and nationally thanks in large part to Mr. Magowan’s leadership.

Mr. Magowan is the Chairman of the Investment Committee at San Francisco Sentry Investment Group as well as an investment portfolio manager. His grandfather, Charles Edward Merrill, was the founder of Merrill Lynch and his brother, Peter, is the former managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball franchise. Merrill L. Magowan has served on 21 nonprofit boards including the San Francisco Zoo, Safeway Stores, and currently is Chair of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. He joined The Marine Mammal Center’s board of directors in 2003 and became its Chair in 2006.

This year’s Gala occurs during an exciting time for the Center, with a few new initiatives underway, including building additional patient pools at its Sausalito-based hospital as well as a Hawaiian monk seal facility in Kona, Hawaii. There are now only 1,100 individuals left of this endangered species and every effort needs to be made to conserve them before they become extinct. Additionally, the Center has launched a public awareness campaign called Stop Trashing Our Oceans to inspire the public to reduce the amount of ocean trash that negatively impacts marine mammals each year.

Details: The Marine Mammal Center 14th Annual Gala

  •     Thursday, October 14, 2009, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  •     The Palace Hotel, San Francisco, CA
  •     $250 single person tickets on sale through October 9
  •     Live auction for unique items such as “Vet for a Day” at the Center, a trip to Italy, or even an Earthwatch Expedition! To view a complete list – click here.
  •     Fund-a-need portion of the evening to help the Center build one of three additional pools needed for the growing number of critical-needs patients.

For more information and to reserve a seat for the 14th Annual Gala, contact (415) 289-7335 or online at

About The Marine Mammal Center:
The Marine Mammal Center is the world’s largest nonprofit veterinary hospital, research and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals - primarily elephant seals, harbor seals and California sea lions - and to the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has been headquartered in the Marin Headlands, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and has rescued and treated more than 16,000 marine mammals. The Center’s newly rebuilt headquarters in Sausalito gives visitors the unique opportunity to learn about marine mammals through viewing areas, educational exhibits and tours. For more information and to sign up for the Center’s eNewsletter, go to:


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Jim Oswald
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