International Elephant Foundation
The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) is composed of a group of Association of Zos and Aquariums zoos and other elephant facilities whose resident elephants are wildlife ambassadors helping to educate the public and raise valuable support dollars for elephant conservation.
Paul Grayson, Zoo deputy director and senior vice-president of conservation and science, serves on the IEF board of directors. In 2011, the IEF provided a total of $230,000 in support of elephant conservation.
Projects related to African elephant conservation include programs that combat poaching and protect wild populations throughout Africa, dissemination of research results utilized by conservation policy decision makers and education programming for various audiences including those who live in elephant range countries. Another valuable program funded by IEF is the "My Elephant Neighbor" program in West Africa. Through this program, thousands of children and their teachers have been able to learn about local elephants. Not all African families are aware of elephant conservation needs and this program utilizes the powerful voice of children to carry that message home to their parents. [close]
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
The Indianapolis Zoo provides financial support to IUCN's climate change vulnerability assessment of tree species in Borneo. The assessment studies trees for viable species survival and builds local capacity for reforestation. [close]
Kutai Orangutan Project
The Zoo supports the Kutai Orangutan Project in the Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan, Borneo. The project started in 2009 in an effort to protect the seriously endangered orangutan population and recover the critical habitat that has been largely destroyed. The project is led by Dr. Anne Russon, who has studied orangutans for more than 30 years. The Kutai Orangutan Project site runs along the south side of the Sangata River and inland. This is an important site because it is vulnerable due to excessive clearing and people moving to the land. So far, the project has found more than two-dozen orangutans in this area. The Project says the orangutans are all healthy and reproducing normally. You can learn more about the Kutai Orangutan Project at the Indianapolis Zoo's Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. [close]
Madagascar Fauna Support Group
The Indianapolis Zoo has a long history of working with the most iconic animals from the island nation of Madagascar – the lemurs. Sadly, all lemur species in Madagascar are endangered, and the Zoo is supporting the efforts of the Madagascar Fauna Interest Group (MFG) to try to save them and their habitat from destruction.
The unstable and challenging political situation in Madagascar resulting from the 2009 coup required shifting of many of the research resources of the MFG towards protection and patrolling of the Betampona reserve areas. Conservation agents successfully redirected their work and saved this reserve from large scale removal of rosewood and lemur poaching, which is unfortunately more common in unpatrolled areas. [close]
Massasauga Rattlesnake Conservation
The Indianapolis Zoo is participating in and helping fund a field census project on the Massasauga rattlesnake. The snake's populations have declined making it necessary to work to avoid possible extinction. [close]
Migratory Bird Conservation
The Indianapolis Zoo has taken an active role in an ongoing research project on grounds. The goal of the project is to mitigate bird strikes with the goal of conserving migratory bird populations. [close]
Tarangire Elephant Project
The Indianapolis Zoo has been providing financial support to Tarangire Elephant Project and its director, Dr. Charles Foley since 2007, for his amazing work to fit together the puzzle of establishing corridors through rapidly expanding settlement areas in Tarangire (Tanzania) so that elephants and humans can live side by side. Totaling more than $300,000, the impact of this support has been outstanding.
Through the comprehensive strategy that Dr. Foley has implemented, his team has come to know and be able to identify more than 700 of the estimated 2,500 elephants living in Tarangire National Park.
Agreements with villages have resulted in the establishment of corridors through village lands to allow the elephants to move out of the Park into calving grounds vital to the long term survival of the population. The Zoo's support pays for the game scouts that track these elephants, as well as travel and communication with the local villagers to maintain these easements.
A unique fundraiser that involved the 2012 Super
Bowl hosting in Indianapolis netted nearly $100,000 in additional funding for the project from the Zoo. Dr. Foley started using these funds in 2013 for a whole new tracking project that greatly enhances his ability to determine the migratory patterns of the elephants. For a comprehensive report on the Tarangire Elephant Project's work in 2012, read their annual report.
Special: Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the 2010 Indianapolis Prize honoree, is partnering with the Mara Elephant Project to try and save the threatened elephants of the Maasi Mara, a project also supported by the Indianapolis Zoo. Watch a fascinating video that details the work of these dedicated individuals who are committed to the conservation of elephants. [close]