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The Zoo maintains commitment to conservation support

Zoo Atlanta announces a commitment of support for five conservation programs protecting wildlife in the Republic of Sierra Leone, Brazil, the Republic of the Congo, and Panama. Projects for parrots, golden lion tamarins, gorillas, Panamanian golden frogs, and giant armadillos are the 2020-2021 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 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.

“From an operational perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an extremely challenging year for Zoo Atlanta and our fellow accredited zoos, but our commitment to our mission has not wavered,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Deputy Director. “Through our Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund, we are able to assist our partners working in the field with programs for five very different species facing equally different threats in the wild.”

Programs slated for 2020-2021 support from the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund are as follows:

Urgent Action to Identify and Protect Key Sites for Timneh Parrots in Sierra Leone
This funding will support field surveys for endangered Timneh parrots, which are closely related to African grey parrots, throughout the coastal mangrove eco-region in Sierra Leone. Support will also assist in the establishment of a community-based monitoring program in the Sherbo River estuary, a key site for these parrots, as well as aid in the implementation of a national awareness campaign. The project was proposed by Lyndsay Newton, Senior Keeper of Ambassador Animals.

Vaccinating and Translocating Golden Lion Tamarins to Prevent Extinction of the Species in Situ
This project will support the vaccination of endangered golden lion tamarins against yellow fever, a newly emergent conservation threat to this species, and the relocation of at least five family groups of tamarins into the Poco das Antas Reserve in Brazil. The project was proposed by Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation.

Addressing New Health and Environmental Risks with Innovative Solutions to Protect Gorillas in the Ndoki forests
This project will build upon 2019-2020 support from Zoo Atlanta to expand health monitoring efforts to include diagnostic assessment of pathogens, surveys of critically endangered gorilla populations living within a high-risk area of a local logging concession, and strategies for increased advocacy for the Goualouga Triangle Ape Project. The project was proposed by Jodi Carrigan, Associate Curator of Primates.

Reintroduction of the Panamanian Golden Frog: Testing the Efficacy of Mesocosms for Reintroductions in the Species’ Natural Range
This funding will support the completion and use of semi-natural enclosures, known as mesocosms, for Panamanian golden frogs in their natural range in preparation for the 2021 breeding season. This species is believed to be extinct in the wild. The initiative will also support monitoring of frogs and tadpoles released into these mesocosms over the following year, with the goal of determining the viability of using mesocosms as a tool for introducing Panamanian golden frogs back into their native habitat. The project was proposed by Robert Hill, Associate Curator of Herpetology.

Giant Armadillo Conservation Program
This funding will help support the Giant Armadillo Conservation Program, a long-term project that has been conducting research for 10 years in Brazil to promote conservation measures for key habitats for giant armadillos, a species currently classified as Vulnerable. The project was proposed by Jenny Berndt, Ambassador Animals Keeper.

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. The Zoo’s conservation support totaled more than $778,000 in 2019. 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 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 effort of other partners is an integral element of Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Strategic Plan, highlighted in the report Beyond the Zoo: Zoo Atlanta’s Commitment to Saving Species. Download the report here.

Zoo Atlanta is open daily with protocols and procedures in place to promote wellness and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include timed ticketing (tickets must be purchased online in advance); hand-sanitizing stations throughout grounds; and signage and other aids to encourage social distancing. Masks are currently required for general admission for all guests over the age of 10. Certain optional paid experiences, including the Endangered Species Carousel, Zoo train, and Treetop Trail, require masks for all guests ages 2 and up. Learn more or plan a visit on

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 the all-new.

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