The Oregon Zoo this weekend was named the recipient of two Conservation Grants Fund awards totaling nearly $38,000 from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The grants — which will fund a cheetah welfare study and a wildlife and lead outreach initiative — were announced Sept. 19 at the annual AZA conference, held this year in Salt Lake City.
“AZA’s Conservation Grants Fund provides support to AZA members who are scientists, wildlife experts and educators working to expand our knowledge of wildlife biology, reproduction, welfare, health, and the threats animals face in their natural ranges, while also actively working in the field and with communities around the world to address these threats,” said Dr. Debborah Luke, AZA senior vice president of conservation and science. “As a result of their work, we are all better positioned to help ensure the future of threatened and endangered species.”
Oregon Zoo conservation manager Dr. Nadja Wielebnowski will collaborate with researchers at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on a $20,360 project assessing the welfare of cheetahs at zoos around the country. And a $17,538 project — put forward by Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager Dr. David Shepherdson and Oregon Zoo education curator Grant Spickelmier — will help the zoo engage key stakeholders regarding lead and its impact on wildlife.
Established in 1984, the AZA Conservation Grants Fund is a competitive grants program that supports the cooperative conservation-related scientific and educational initiatives of AZA members and their partners. Major areas of funding for conservation and animal care are represented, including research, field conservation, education and outreach, animal welfare, animal health and animal management. Many projects are collaborations among AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and state, federal and international wildlife agencies, academic institutions and other conservation organizations.
Since 1991, the CGF has provided almost $7 million to more than 375 projects worldwide. Funds are raised through private and corporate contributions, including the Disney Conservation Fund, which is funding both of this year’s Oregon Zoo projects. Overall, 18 projects were selected for funding this year, with grants totaling $370,269.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. In 1974, the Oregon Zoo became just the second zoo in the country to earn accreditation from the AZA. It has now been accredited for more than 40 years.
The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on Asian elephants, polar bears, orangutans and giant pandas.
Support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world.
The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit trimet.org for fare and route information.
General zoo admission is $11.50 (ages 12-64), $10 for seniors (65 and up), $8.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger. Additional information is available at oregonzoo.org or by calling 503-226-1561.