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Zoo commits support to six conservation programs

Projects for beaded lizards, red pandas, pine snakes, African vultures and Georgia native birds will benefit from Zoo support.

Zoo Atlanta announces a commitment of support to six conservation projects protecting wildlife in Guatemala, Nepal, South Africa, Alabama and Georgia in the U.S., and as close to home as Atlanta’s Grant Park. Programs for Guatemalan beaded lizards, red pandas, northern pine snakes, African vultures and Georgia native birds are the 2018-2019 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 the Zoo to expand its conservation actions and contributions. Zoo Atlanta will disperse a collective $45,000 to this set of programs for 2018-2019 – the most the Zoo has ever apportioned to projects supported by the endowment.

“One of the most important roles that accredited zoos play today is to serve as vital sources of conservation funding for partners working in the wild. Each of these projects will allow us to amplify our impact,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “Not only do these efforts represent species living here at the Zoo, but they also represent the passion and commitment of the people here at Zoo Atlanta who are working every day for animal well-being.”

Projects are proposed 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 outreach; and professional development opportunities for the Zoo team.

The 2018-2019 programs slated for support from the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund are as follows:

Addressing Conservation Issues of Native Birds at Zoo Atlanta
In partnership with the Atlanta Audubon Society, this effort will promote the conservation of native birds on Zoo Atlanta grounds and in the surrounding Grant Park community through actions including bird-proofing sections of the glass windows at the Zoo’s Conservation Action Resource Center (ARC); re-planting wildlife-friendly native plants to support birds and other pollinators; and installing signage and providing other educational resources to raise awareness of the need for bird-friendly practices at home and in the garden. The project was proposed by Gabriel Andrle, Bird Keeper.

Community-based habitat restoration for the critically endangered Guatemalan beaded lizard
In partnership with Conservation Heloderma and the International Reptile Conservation Foundation (IRCF), this project will extend the Zoo’s longtime commitment to critically endangered Guatemalan beaded lizards by supporting an ecosystem restoration project in the dry forests of Guatemala. Actions will include the planting of 10,000 trees on former agricultural lands. The project was proposed by Sam Rivera, DVM, Senior Clinical Veterinarian.

Institutionalization of Red Panda Conservation in Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung Corridor, Eastern Nepal
In partnership with the Red Panda Network, this initiative will work to reduce poaching and wildlife trafficking and to mitigate threats such as livestock grazing, road development, unsustainable exploitation of bamboo and timber and slash-and-burn agriculture in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung Corridor, a crucial wildlife corridor that supports 25 percent of Nepal’s red panda population. The project was proposed by Kenn Harwood, Assistant Curator of Mammals.

Motus Wildlife Tracking System Receiver Station at Zoo Atlanta
In partnership with Bird Studies Canada (BSC) and Acadia University, this project will install a Motus Wildlife Tracking System receiver tower on Zoo Atlanta grounds to contribute data to the Motus database on the movement patterns of Georgia native songbirds and migratory birds using the Atlantic flyway. The project was proposed by Monica Halpin, Lead Keeper of Birds, and Taylor Rubin, Bird Keeper.

Northern Pine Snakes of Northeast Alabama and Northern Georgia
In partnership with Clemson University, Reinhardt University, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this effort will facilitate creation of a management guide for conservation of native northern pine snakes for agencies, NGOs and private landowners, as well as development of a species distribution model to help to predict future monitoring areas and locations of tracts of land to be preserved for conservation. The project was proposed by Robert Hill, Assistant Curator of Herpetology.

Undertaking Population Surveys of Critically Endangered African White-backed and Hooded Vultures
In partnership with VulPro, this project will undertake surveys of nesting sites used by two critically endangered African vulture species, establish baseline data to determine population trends, and identify and work to mitigate immediate threats to the vultures’ breeding sites. The project was proposed by Christina Lavallee, Lead Keeper of Ambassador Animals.

Zoo Atlanta has always placed conservation at the forefront of its mission, with a long history of conservation program support and scientific research focused on enhancing a global body of knowledge on animal behavior and biology. The Zoo’s conservation support totaled over $1 million in 2017 alone. In summer 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 wildlife trafficking and human-wildlife conflict. In addition to these efforts, Zoo Atlanta contributes 25 cents of every general admission ticket to projects for wildlife through its Quarters for Conservation program.

Read an overview of Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Strategic Action Plan and key highlights of Zoo Atlanta conservation efforts in the 2018 report “Beyond the Zoo: Zoo Atlanta’s Commitment to Saving Species,” available in its entirety here.

You can support conservation programs at Zoo Atlanta by donating here. Learn more about the Zoo’s conservation here.

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
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. Zoo highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016; 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. Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. The Zoo’s newest experience, Treetop Trail presented by Kaiser Permanente, opened in March 2017. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises and giant pandas. 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

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