San Diego, California - The president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, Jamie Rappaport Clark, was awarded the San Diego Zoo Global Conservation Medal for Lifetime Achievement today at the annual Friends of Animals luncheon. The award is presented to conservationists who have demonstrated long-term commitment and results in the fight to protect species from extinction.
“San Diego Zoo Global has been honored to work with Jamie Rappaport Clark on a number of significant programs over the years, and she has consistently remained a champion for species at risk,” said Douglas G. Myers, president/CEO, San Diego Zoo Global. “Her leadership in solving conservation problems has allowed San Diego Zoo Global and other conservation organizations to move forward with our work.”
In his remarks, Myers cited Clark’s work in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that advanced the U.S. giant panda conservation program, as well as her vision working to facilitate new approaches, such as the collection of DNA in Frozen Zoo collections, and efforts working with native species.
A lifelong advocate for protecting America’s wildlife, Clark chose a career in wildlife biology as a young college student, helping release peregrine falcons into the wild as part of a successful national recovery effort. Then 20 years later, as director of USFWS, she had the honor of removing this recovered species from the federal Endangered Species List.
“I have worked with Jamie for decades, and have always been inspired by her energy and her commitment to all kinds of wildlife,” said Mendel Stewart, leader, San Diego End Extinction. “She continues to remain focused on initiatives protecting U.S. native species, working to ensure that our wildlife heritage is preserved for the future.”
In recognition of her expertise, achievements in endangered species conservation and national leadership in this field, President Bill Clinton appointed her to lead USFWS in 1997. During her tenure, Clark oversaw the establishment of 27 new refuges and the addition of 2 million acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System. She presided over the successful recovery of key endangered species, such as the bald eagle, gray wolf and Aleutian Canada goose. Today, under her leadership, Defenders of Wildlife is widely recognized as a strategic leader on Endangered Species Act policy and implementation, as well as a leader for species and habitat restoration.
“My life in conservation has been a wonderful journey with deep meaning, urgent importance and real impact,” Clark said. “I am particularly appreciative of the partnerships and collaborations with individuals and organizations that have helped to make it so extraordinarily fulfilling and exciting. Zoos are crucial partners in the protection and recovery of imperiled species, engaging in critically needed conservation around the globe and offering people a vivid and deeply personal opportunity to experience the wild creatures and places that enrich our world. The San Diego Zoo has been a leader and benchmark in that effort, and I am deeply grateful to San Diego Zoo Global for this honor.”
Since 1966, the Conservation Medal awards program has recognized recipients who have provided active and important contributions toward the conservation and recovery of endangered species. Their efforts also help to conserve habitats or ecosystems through applied research, breeding and reintroduction programs, community education and the establishment of protected areas. Past winners include E.O. Wilson, Ian Douglas-Hamilton and Jane Goodall.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Defenders.org/Newsroom and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.
As an international nonprofit organization, San Diego Zoo Global works to fight extinction through conservation efforts for plants and animals worldwide. With a history of leadership in species recovery and animal care, San Diego Zoo Global works with partners in science-based field programs on six continents, and maintains sanctuaries and public education facilities in many places. Inspiring passion for nature is critical to saving species, and San Diego Zoo Global’s outreach efforts share the wonder of wildlife with millions of people every year. Current major conservation initiatives include fighting wildlife trafficking and the impacts of climate change on wildlife species; broad-spectrum species and habitat protection efforts in Kenya, in Peru and on islands worldwide; preventing extinction in our own backyard; and expanding efforts to bank critical genetic resources and apply them to the conservation of critically endangered species.