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Zoological Society Wins Prestigious Conservation Award

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) announced this week that the Zoological Society of Milwaukee has been recognized with AZA’s 2017 International Conservation Award for significant achievement for its Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative. The initiative recently discovered what could be the largest unfragmented population of bonobos thus far described for the species.

The Zoological Society’s Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative (BCBI), celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is the longest-running conservation project in the Salonga National Park, a huge wildlife reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. BCBI works to study and protect the bonobo, an endangered species of great ape and one of humankind’s closest relatives, and other wildlife such as the forest elephant, through survey work and support of anti-poaching patrols. It recently documented a population of 4,100 bonobos – possibly the largest unfragmented population of bonobos ever discovered – as a result of four years of intense survey work over 2,600 square miles of dense rainforest. The discovery underscores the critical importance of the initiative’s work and contributing to conservationists’ understanding of the status of the species.

“The Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative has had a significant and measurable impact in surveying and conserving bonobos and other wildlife in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Jodi Gibson, president and CEO of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. “We’re extremely proud of the initiative’s groundbreaking accomplishment and the leadership of BCBI’s director, Dr. Gay Reinartz.”

This annual award from the AZA recognizes exceptional efforts toward regional habitat preservation, species restoration and support of biodiversity in the wild. Winning projects are recognized as models of zoo-driven global conservation movements.

“With conservation as our mission, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums directly contribute to the survival of hundreds of imperiled species in nature,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The Zoological Society of Milwaukee is a global leader in the field, and this award recognizes the Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative as an outstanding example of the contributions zoo and aquarium professionals are making through research and field conservation projects.”

About the Zoological Society of Milwaukee

The mission of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee is to conserve wildlife and endangered species, educate people about the importance of wildlife and the environment, and support the Milwaukee County Zoo.

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos & 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. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.

For more information, call: Katie Krecklow at 414-258-2333, ext. 222 - September 14, 2017