Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Ga., announced a commitment of support for seven conservation programs protecting wildlife in Nepal, Congo, Cameroon, Brazil, Cambodia, and here at home in Georgia. Projects for loggerhead sea turtles, red pandas, eastern box turtles, gorillas, drill monkeys, giant armadillos, and clouded leopards are the 2022 beneficiaries of the Zoo’s Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund.
The Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund annually awards grants to projects that enable Zoo Atlanta to amplify its global conservation impact. Projects are proposed for consideration by team members across Zoo Atlanta and are selected by a review committee based on relevance to the Zoo’s mission; conservation status and needs of the species in question; conservation significance; inclusion of education and community outreach; and professional development opportunities for the Zoo team.
“Zoo Atlanta is very excited to support seven projects through our Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund in 2022. Not only are we able to amplify our conservation impact, but we are also fulfilling a key aspect of our conservation strategic plan, which is to support the work of other partners,” said Raymond B. King, president and chief executive officer at the Zoo. “Effective conservation efforts are rarely possible without partnerships, and we are proud to contribute to these efforts, not just for species on three other continents, but in our own backyards in Georgia.”
Programs slated for 2022 support from the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund are as follows:
Funds will support the Caretta Research Project’s efforts to reverse decline in loggerhead sea turtle populations through population monitoring, data analysis, and initiatives to protect the nesting population in Georgia’s Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge. The project was proposed by Dr. Joe Mendelson, director of research.
This project will support the Red Panda Network in establishing a reforestation nursery in Jaubari, Nepal, to supply native seedlings of red panda food and shelter tree species, as well as Non-timber Forest Product (NTFP) seedlings for planting and reforestation of this core habitat. The project was proposed by Kenn Harwood, associate curator of mammals.
Funding will contribute to a partnership between the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, University of North Georgia, and Elachee Nature Center to evaluate the success of translocating native eastern box turtles threatened by commercial development in north Georgia, as well as develop baseline health parameters and determine infectious disease prevalence for this turtle population. The project was proposed by Megan Watson, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, associate veterinarian.
Support from Zoo Atlanta will assist the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in assessing mammal biodiversity in northern Congo; assess the diversity of specific viral and bacterial pathogens known to affect gorillas and local human populations in West Africa; and provide educational outreach focused on zoonotic disease and prevention. The project was proposed by Jodi Carrigan, associate curator of primates.
Funding will support the Green Project, a collaborative, community-focused project that incentivizes long-term and sustainable community engagement with conservation to protect the biodiverse habitat, including the fragile drill population residing in the Mount Cameroon National Park. Zoo Atlanta support will specifically fund efforts by the Limbe Wildlife Centre, a member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, in creating alternative, sustainable livelihood alternatives to hunting and animal trading for people living in the buffer zone of the park. The project was proposed by Patti Frazier, lead keeper of primates.
This funding will help support the Giant Armadillo Conservation Program, a long-term project that has been conducting research for ten years in Brazil to promote conservation measures for key habitats for giant armadillos, a species currently classified as Vulnerable. The project was proposed by Christina Lavallee, lead keeper of ambassador animals.
Funds from Zoo Atlanta will support Wildlife Alliance’s efforts to protect the clouded leopard population in southwestern Cambodia via the Veal Pi Ranger Station. The station patrols the Cardamom Rainforest to reduce the impact of snaring on clouded leopards and other native cat species and uses camera traps to assess animal activities. The project was proposed by Michelle Elliott, mammal keeper III.
Beyond those projects supported by the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund, Zoo Atlanta has a long history of conservation program support and scientific research focused on enhancing the global body of knowledge on animal behavior and biology. In addition to long-standing support for giant panda conservation, with more than $16 million contributed to field projects for giant pandas thus far, in 2018, Zoo Atlanta announced a substantial partnership with Conservation South Luangwa, a nonprofit organization based in Zambia, to protect African elephants and other species impacted by illegal wildlife trafficking and human-wildlife conflict. Since 2016, Zoo Atlanta has also contributed 25 cents of every general admission ticket to programs for wildlife through its Quarters for Conservation program.
Learn more about conservation programs and partnerships at Zoo Atlanta at zooatlanta.org/conservation.
Red panda photo credit: ©Zoo Atlanta