Animals have an instinct for survival, but they can’t do it without our help.Over the last 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and learn about the Earth’s awe-inspiring creatures. I’ve also seen the “wild” shrink – virtually all animals are experiencing some sort of challenge. But, there is good news! I’ve discovered that whenever you see an animal, there is almost always a hardworking person nearby looking out for its best interest. These animal advocates need financial support from people like you and me to continue their important work.At the Columbus Zoo, we take conservation seriously. Today we devote $3,000,000 to conservation efforts annually around the world, most recently 70 projects in 30 countries. As I continue to travel around the world to film and visit conservationists, I regularly learn about organizations that are in dire need of resources and funding. I invite you to be a hero to these people and the animals they’ve dedicated their lives to…and make a difference today!
In 1991, Charlene Jendry, then a gorilla zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo, met with zoo volunteers to discuss starting a grassroots initiative that would benefit the mountain gorillas. She shared her vision with me and soon after Partners In Conservation (PIC) was born. The PIC and Columbus Zoo teams have learned that knowing and loving the local people is the key to conservation success. With education and employment opportunities, people and animals can co-exist peacefully. Projects PIC supports include Nyungwe Forest Conservation, Ubumwe Community Center, Artisan Project, Gorilla Doctors and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Rwanda’s people and wildlife have captured our hearts – Sue and I try to visit Rwanda once a year!
Partners In Conservation today.
Dr. Laurie Marker founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in 1990 after witnessing the dwindling populations of cheetahs in the wild. Marker has helped launch a highly successful captive breeding program in the United States and has conducted important research that revealed the lack of genetic diversity in cheetahs. CCF pioneered the Livestock Guarding Dog Program – a program that Jack and the Columbus Zoo are proud to support! Seeing cheetahs in Africa sure is an amazing sight – we were thrilled to see Marker’s work in the field during a 2003 filming trip in Africa.
In September 2013 Suzi and I, along with the Into the Wild film crew and Columbus Zoo experts, ventured to Curaçao to get a closer look at one of the conservation programs we support – SECORE. Coral reefs, the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, are suffering in many parts of the world. One way scientists are helping preserve them is to raise corals in laboratories, and then reestablish them into reefs in need of restoration. The Columbus Zoo does just that in collaboration with SECORE and the Curaçao Sea Aquarium!
The Sea Aquarium assists researchers and often uses the “Curasub.” The submarine allows researchers to go down 1,000 feet below the surface of the ocean and can be outfitted with different tools and research instruments, employing the newest advancements in robotics, electronics, imaging and collecting equipment. When not aiding research, the Curasub is available for ecotourism adventures!
The Rolling Dog Farm in New Hampshire is home to dozens of disabled and blind dogs, cats and horses. These are the animals who are the least likely to be adopted and among the most likely to euthanized in traditional shelters. Rolling Dog was founded by Steve Smith and Alayne Marker in 2000, and with the help of volunteers, they work from sun up to sun down to ensure that the animals on the farm live life to the fullest.