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Supporting conservation on three continents

Projects for gorillas, red pandas, pine snakes, African vultures, clouded leopards and giraffes will benefit from Zoo support.

Zoo Atlanta announces a commitment of support for six conservation projects protecting wildlife in the Republic of the Congo, Nepal, South Africa, Cambodia, Kenya and closer to home in northern Georgia and Alabama. Programs for western lowland gorillas, red pandas, northern pine snakes, African vultures, clouded leopards and reticulated giraffes are the 2019-2020 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 conservation support. 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 animal population; 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.

“One of the most vital roles played by accredited zoos in wildlife conservation is their ability to serve as invaluable sources of funding that sustains the work of partners working in the field,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Deputy Director. “Because these projects are proposed by Zoo Atlanta team members, they also illustrate the commitment and deep passion of the professionals who are daily dedicated to the well-being of the animals in our care here at the Zoo.”

Programs slated for 2019-2020 support from the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund are as follows:

Addressing New Risks with Innovative Solutions to Protect Gorillas in the Ndoki Forests
This project supports the conservation of critically endangered western lowland gorillas as part of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project (GTAP) in the Congo basin. The project was proposed by Jodi Carrigan, Assistant Curator of Primates.

Plant a Red Panda Home
In partnership with the Red Panda Network, this effort is geared toward restoration of red panda habitat in western Nepal. The project was proposed by Kenn Harwood, Assistant Curator of Mammals.

Northern Pine Snakes of Northeast Alabama and Northern Georgia: Unearthing a Forest Ghost
In partnership with Clemson University, Reinhardt University, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service (Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest) and The Nature Conservancy, this support represents a continuation of a project funded by the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund in 2018-2019 and is an example of one of Zoo Atlanta’s many partnerships benefiting native species. The project was proposed by Robert Hill, Assistant Curator of Herpetology.

Halting the Decline of Vultures Through Population Surveys of Endangered Tree-Nesting Species
In partnership with VulPro, this project is aimed at collecting population data to aid in conserving African white-backed vultures and hooded vultures in South Africa. The project was proposed by Christina Lavallee, Ambassador Animals Lead Keeper.

Veal Pi Ranger Station
In partnership with Wildlife Alliance, this effort is based in Cambodia’s Cardamom Rainforest landscape, a globally significant place for Asian large cat species such as clouded leopards. The project was proposed by Michelle Elliott, Mammal Keeper.

Twiga Walinzi
Twiga Walinzi takes place in northern Kenya and focuses on population studies of reticulated giraffes. Key collaborators are San Diego Zoo Global; Giraffe Conservation Foundation; Northern Rangelands Trust; Loisaba Conservancy; The Nature Conservancy; Kenya Wildlife Service; Namunyak Conservancy; Sarara Camp; and Lewa-Borana Conservancy. The project was proposed by Sarah Snider, Mammal Keeper.

Conservation is at the forefront of the Zoo’s mission, and the Zoo has a long history of conservation program support and scientific research focused on enhancing the global body of knowledge on animal behavior and biology. The Zoo’s conservation support totaled more than $750,000 in 2018. Since 2016, Zoo Atlanta has contributed 25 cents of every general admission ticket to projects for wildlife through its Quarters for Conservation program. In 2018, Zoo Atlanta announced a substantial new 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.

Supporting the efforts of other partners is an integral element of Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Strategic Plan, highlighted in the 2018 report Beyond the Zoo: Zoo Atlanta’s Commitment to Saving Species. Download the report here.

Learn more about conservation programs and partnerships at Zoo Atlanta at

Rachel Davis
Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell

Gavin Johnson
Public Relations & Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office

About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, home to more than 70 species in the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian complex. Experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas and lemurs. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper Talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit

NOW OPEN: the all-new African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs and meerkats. The African Savanna is part of the Zoo’s landmark Grand New View transformation. Future elements include Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination, and a new grand entry plaza, opening in early 2020. For more on the Zoo’s mission and conservation programs and partnerships, visit or download the 2018 conservation report, Beyond the Zoo.

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