A Year of Thanks
It has been just over a year since I was awarded the Philadelphia Zoo’s 2015 Global Conservation Prize. I was overwhelmed when first notified that I had been chosen for the prize, and greatly respect everyone involved in the prize selection for their willingness to take a chance on a non-traditional research-based field project like Great Apes 2020. As 2015 nears a close, I wanted to take time to thank the Zoo for their commitment to Great Apes 2020 and financial support of the global research on the fate of wild great apes.
During the first year of the Zoo’s two-year financial support I have been able to explore great ape conditions in Equatorial West Africa’s Cameroon and Nigeria, and more recently examine the devastating fires that swept Kalimantan Borneo during September through November; and event being called the worst human-caused environmental disaster of the 21st Century.
In 2016, the second year of Zoo support, will feature trips to:
· community forest projects in Uganda and West Kalimantan,
· central Congo Basin examining illegal logging and expanding palm oil plantation growth,
· chimp and gorilla orphan work in Cameroon,
· continuing examination devastating Indonesian fires and impact of the predicted second year of the El Niño on the region, and
· palm oil role in orang-utan survival in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Funding from the PhillyZoo will also support the piloting of a new Youtube channel video program called Apes Like Us. Apes Like Us will explore the plethora of connections we have to and with the other four great apes—gorillas, orang-utans, chimpanzees and bonobos—and why they are the canaries in the global coalmine.
Moving forward in 2016 I would like to thank Zoo CEO Vik Dewan and COO Andy Baker for their support of the Global Conservation Prize, and special thanks to Conservation Education VP Kim Lengel, and my liaisons Valerie Peckam and Wei Ying Wong for their constant encouragement and support of the Great Apes 2020 project.
About the Philadelphia Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo has a historic commitment to wildlife conservation, both in the breeding and protection of endangered species, and support of in situ conservation projects. As the first zoo in America, founded in 1874, the Zoo has been a leader in zoo design with innovations, like Zoo360. Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 species, many rare and endangered.
2015-2016 Global research and reporting on great apes made possible in part through the generous financial support of the Philadelphia Zoo