Georgeanne Irvine with her new book “Saving Moka”
Georgeanne Irvine with her new book “Saving Moka.”

San Diego Zoo public relations veteran Georgeanne Irvine, now an author of children’s books and director of corporate publishing for San Diego Zoo Global, is excited about the debut of her latest book scheduled for next month.

Saving Moka: The True Tale of a Rescued Tiger Cub” is the story about a Bengal-Amur cub who was confiscated at the Tijuana border crossing from a smuggler. When the cub was rescued at about five weeks old, he weighed six pounds, less than the average house cat.

Named Moka, which means “chance” in Hindi, the cub was taken to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido where he received world-class care and a lifesaving surgery for an intestinal blockage. The book is part of the publisher’s “Hope and Inspiration” collection that features true stories about animals overcoming challenges in their lives.

“Sharing Moka’s story is important to me because it addresses, at a child’s level, why we must prevent and stop wildlife trafficking of endangered species,” said Irvine. “Moka was one of the lucky animals because he was rescued but most trafficked animals aren’t so fortunate.”

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Irvine’s previous book, “Mosi Musa: A True Tale About a Baby Monkey Raised by His Grandma,” was honored earlier this year with a Benjamin Franklin gold award in the Young Reader Nonfiction category by the Independent Book Publishers Association. “Mosi Musa” is about a baby vervet monkey with a challenging start to life when his mother couldn’t care for him. His Grandma Thelma stepped in to raise him and teach him how to be a monkey.

In 2019, another Irvine book, “Ruuxa & Raina: A Cheetah and Dog’s True Story of Friendship and Miracles,” also won the gold medal in the same IBPA category. It is the true story of a cheetah named Ruuxa and his best friend Raina, who beat the odds stacked again them. Ruuxa learned to run after veterinarians surgically corrected his crooked legs and Raina beat cancer.

Another Irvine book, “Karen’s Heart: The True Story of a Brave Baby Orangutan,” was previously honored with an IBPA silver medal. It is the true story of Karen, a Sumatran orangutan who survived history-making heart surgery and a challenging recovery and how, in the process, she won the hearts of everyone around her.

In 1992, San Diego Zoo keepers noticed that Karen, age 1 at the time, wasn’t feeling well. Karen was examined by zoo veterinarians and cardiologists, who discovered that she had a life-threatening heart murmur, caused by a hole in her heart. In 1994, to save Karen’s life, a surgery team from University of California San Diego Medical Center performed open-heart surgery on her — the first time this had ever been done on an orangutan.

“Karen’s Heart” also features a 1994 letter written to Karen by Jennifer Auger of San Diego, who was 5 years old at the time and battling leukemia as a patient at Rady Children’s Hospital. Withdrawn and despondent, Auger was encouraged by her mother to write a letter to somebody else who was sick. So, the child wrote an encouraging letter to Karen, telling the 2-year-old young ape recovering from open-heart surgery to be courageous and stay strong.

Both Auger and Karen eventually recovered. Today, Karen still lives at the San Diego Zoo, and Auger works as a registered nurse at Rady.

Irvine, a 42-year employee with the zoo, began working there on March 22, 1978, as a public relations assistant. After 22 years in PR, she worked in fundraising and development for 16 years before her appointment in January 2017 as director of corporate publishing of San Diego Zoo Global Press, an entity that’s part of San Diego Zoo Global, the nonprofit organization that operates the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Books can be purchased at the zoo or online at

Lake Poway
Lake Poway. Courtesy San Diego County Water Authority

San Diego Public Agencies Win Communications Awards

Two public agencies in San Diego County were recently honored with communications awards by the California Public Information Officers, a statewide professional trade group of communicators from public sector agencies.

The City of San Marcos received CAPIO Epic Awards for its San Marcos Creek Project groundbreaking ceremony, held December 2019, as well as the project’s logo. The San Marcos Creek Project is a three-year, $104 million construction project to raise the roadways and bridges over San Marcos Creek.

“These awards are a testament to the importance we place on keeping our community informed and involved in key infrastructure projects,” said Tess Sangster, economic development director for the City of San Marcos. The city hired JPW Communications to execute communications activities for the San Marcos Creek project.

In addition, the San Diego County Water Authority was honored with an CAPIO Epic Award for its Water News Network website, launched in mid 2018. Judges lauded the website for keeping stakeholders in mind with design and original content and photos. The water authority said stories from the website are picked up by regional news media on a weekly basis, and the percentage of views generated through organic search has increased 454 percent since inception.

“Over the past two years, the Water News Network has become a timely and reliable source of news and information about a variety of water issues, projects and programs affecting more than 3.3 million across San Diego County,” said Denise Vedder, public affairs director. “We’re proud to collaborate with our member agencies on this and other outreach and education efforts about region’s most precious natural resource.”

Lewis Adds Druva to PR Client Roster

Lewis, a global marketing agency with an office in San Diego, has been named as the public relations agency of record in the United States for Druva, a global leader in cloud data protection and management.

“We are confident our creativity and deep expertise in the industry will help propel Druva to the next level,” said Noah Dye, senior vice president at Lewis. “Druva pioneered the category of cloud data protection and is the definitive leader in a high-growth market now exceeding $30 billion. With that comes an opportunity to tell compelling stories rooted in Druva’s proven cloud heritage, a roster of customers including Slack, NASA and Patagonia, and the company’s integral role in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.”

Druva, currently serving more than 4,000 customers worldwide, has surpassed $1 billion valuation and $100 million in annual recurring revenue in the last 12 months. Based in Sunnyvale, Druva is a privately-held company funded by Sequoia Capital, Viking Global Investors, Tenaya Capital, Riverwood Capital and Nexus Partners.

“As we continue to expand our business and strengthen our position within the U.S., we needed a marketing agency that could match our pace of growth and scale. Lewis’ deep technology expertise and innovative, creative approach made the agency the ideal partner to support our expanding communications efforts,” said Thomas Been, chief marketing officer at Druva. “With the team’s support, we are focused on accelerating growth and amplifying the success of our passionate customers.”

In related news, Lewis recently received an award from PR Daily in the digital marketing and social media for its work for Polaris and its robotic swimming pool cleaner. The Polaris brand is made by Zodiac Pool Systems of Carlsbad.

With more than 500 staff members, Lewis operates 24 offices throughout Asia, Europe and North America. The San Diego office, with 40 employees, opened in 1998. Clients serviced in San Diego include Mitek Systems and Flurida Group.

San Diego AMA: ‘How To Activate Your Brand’

The American Marketing Association  San Diego chapter will present a free webinar titled “How to Activate Your Brand to Drive Greater Online Effectiveness” from 11 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Aug. 4, over the Zoom meeting platform. The webinar is the third installment of AMA’s 2020 Cause Conference series.

Presenting will be Frank Cowell, CEO of  Digitopia, who will discuss: how to identify valuable market segments and align your organization’s messaging to attract key stakeholders; a proven digital framework that will help you expand awareness, improve audience targeting, and convert your marketing investments into more effective results that drive inbound traffic; and tips on how to galvanize your entire team around a shared, exciting vision.

Attendees will have access to post-event resources, including tools, checklists, assessments and worksheets to help teams further develop key brand and revenue strategies, plus an opportunity for a free digital strategy assessment from a Digitopia executive. For registration information, visit

Rick Griffin
Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.