Gellar said her 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte Grace, gave her a new appreciation for the zoo, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
"I used to come here all the time even before I had children, but now being able to see the animals through my daughter's eyes is incredible," she said.
"It's important to help the community any way you can," Gellar said in response to receiving the second Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award. "The zoo really does a lot to rehabilitate the animals and provide them a safe environment."
The award, which was first given to rocker Slash last year, is presented to a member of the entertainment community who has established meaningful programs contributing to the world's natural or civic environment, the Times said.
Also on hand at the 42nd annual Beastly Ball June 16 were actresses Betty White and Pauley Perrette of "NCIS" fame.