The Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society on Sunday joined a growing list of nonprofit groups abandoning plans to host fundraising events at President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE's Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
In a statement, Andrew Aiken, the zoo's CEO and president, said the organization decided to cancel plans to host its 2018 fundraising gala at the private Palm Beach club in order to avoid "distractions."
"We have an unyielding commitment to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world," Aiken said. "After thoughtful consideration by Zoo leadership, we have decided it is important that we not allow distractions to deter us from our mission and culture."
"It is critical that the focus of this special night remains on saving species and raising awareness and money for the hundreds of animals, many of them endangered, in our care," he added.
The zoo is at least the eighth group to back out of plans at Mar-a-Lago in the wake of Trump's comments on the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
On Thursday, three groups — the Cleveland Clinic, the American Cancer Society and the American Friends of Magen David Adom — announced they were scrapping their planned events at the club after the president's remarks.
Since then, several other groups, including the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, have dropped out of the venue.
Trump had a controversial week. In a defiant news conference on Tuesday, the president defended white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that incited violence during demonstrations in Charlottesville last weekend. He also appeared to equate counterprotesters with the hate groups that they had shown up to oppose.
Those comments also drove several business leaders on two key economic councils to resign. Trump later said that he had disbanded the panels altogether, and he scrapped plans to create a council on infrastructure.