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Woodland Park Zoo’s Dr. Lisa Dabek nominated for Indianapolis Prize

Vies for $250K in world’s leading award for animal conservation

Woodland Park Zoo’s Dr. Lisa Dabek is a nominee for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. Dabek is recognized for her international conservation efforts to save the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo through Woodland Park Zoo’s flagship conservation program, Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP).


Thirty-nine conservationists who have dedicated their lives to saving the Earth’s endangered species are nominees to receive the biennial Indianapolis Prize. The winner of the Prize will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal. Five other finalists will each receive $10,000. The nominees’ work spans the globe and represents a broad range of species including tree kangaroos, chimpanzees, snow leopards, sea turtles, giant pandas, and many more.


Dabek founded TKCP in 1996 to foster wildlife and habitat conservation and local community livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (PNG)—home to the endangered Matschie's tree kangaroo—working with local communities to save the animal and the forest resources they share. In 2009, TKCP worked with local landowners to help develop Papua New Guinea's first ever Conservation Area, officially recognized by the national government. Landowners pledged more than 180,000 acres of their own land to create the protected area for tree kangaroos, rain forest habitat and endemic species of PNG's Huon Peninsula. By uniting PNG landowners, government officials, and conservation partners, TKCP has created a community of conservation advocates to address long-term management for the Conservation Area and improvement opportunities to better the livelihood of the surrounding communities.


“Lisa’s tireless commitment to studying the little known endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo has resulted in extraordinary achievements toward conservation,” said Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO. “Lisa’s field conservation efforts—such as her groundbreaking work on outfitting tree kangaroos with National Geographic Crittercams©, which recorded the first footage of arboreal mammals—are advancing work to protect this endangered species and its habitat, including the creation of the first government-recognized Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea. Lisa’s nomination celebrates her great dedication to wildlife conservation.”


An international Nominating Committee composed of renowned professional conservationists and local representatives reviews all nominations and selects six finalists, who will be revealed in the spring of 2014. The Prize Jury will then determine the winner, who will be announced in mid-2014 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc., to be held September 27, 2014, in Indianapolis.


The Indianapolis Prize was first awarded in 2006 to Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation. The 2008 winner was George Schaller, Ph.D., senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society and an icon in field conservation around the world. In 2010, the Indianapolis Prize was awarded to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., founder of Save the Elephants, who pioneered research in elephant social behavior and has led the way in fighting poaching of African elephants. Steven Amstrup, Ph.D., of Polar Bears International, received the 2012 Indianapolis Prize for his work promoting the cause of the world’s largest land carnivore.


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