Indianapolis Zoo and IUCN SSC Announce International Team for the New Global Center for Species Survival
First of its kind Global Center will connect thousands of wildlife conservation experts around the world

Indianapolis Zoo and IUCN SSC Announce International Team for the New Global Center for Species Survival

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Published Jan. 19, 2021

The Indianapolis Zoo has hired a team of internationally known experts to amplify efforts to protect nature through the new Global Center for Species Survival. Their roles focus on supporting, connecting and communicating the work and efforts of more than 10,000 conservationists of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest environmental conservation organization. The Global Center is part of a groundbreaking partnership between the Zoo and IUCN SSC.

These seven coordinators will begin their roles at the Global Center in the first quarter of 2021. They’ve worked over the last 10-15 years saving species on five continents and are currently moving to Indianapolis from locations around the world.

“This is the next important step in Indianapolis’ commitment to protecting nature and inspiring people to care for our world,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, President & CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. “The newest members of our team bring incredible expertise and passion for preserving biodiversity, and they will make a tremendous difference on a global scale.”

Made  possible through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Global Center advances the Zoo’s efforts to make Indianapolis one of the world’s most conservation-literate cities. The Global Center will support the wildlife experts whose findings make up the IUCN Red List, which outlines the specific extinction issues facing all species.

“This new team at the Indianapolis Zoo will bring unprecedented capacity to scale up the efforts of the SSC’s world leading conservation experts who are working to secure a future for plants, fungi and animals in more than 160 countries,” said Professor Jon Paul Rodríguez, Chair of the IUCN SSC. “The Global Center will help us to bridge the gaps and support leading conservationists as they tackle critical planetary issues leading to biodiversity loss due to global climate change, invasive species, habitat degradation, overexploitation, and illegal wildlife trade.”

Serving as the home for the Global Center, the Indianapolis Zoo will also host international meetings and conferences to support the work of the IUCN SSC. Through this partnership, the Zoo will expand economic benefit to the community and its ability to connect science and scientists with the public, as it has for decades through internationally recognized exhibits and programming, and through the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation.

The Zoo’s Senior Vice President, Bill Street, will lead the new team as the Director of the Global Center. “After an exhaustive worldwide search, we are excited to have these extraordinary conservationists join our Indianapolis community and continue their efforts to accelerate the conservation of animals, plants and fungi, both under water and on land,” said Street. “Their work will be a significant contribution to saving species worldwide and redefine how zoos can support field conservation efforts.”

The new coordinators are:

Monika Böhm, Ph.D., Freshwater Coordinator

With more than a decade’s experience supporting freshwater IUCN assessments, Dr. Monika Böhm brings vast knowledge on the diverse conservation issues affecting freshwater species. She has published papers on topics including climate change vulnerability and extinction threat and is a certified Red List trainer, involved in workshops around the world. She has been both a postdoctoral research assistant and research fellow at the Zoological Society of London and is a member of numerous specialist groups.

Cátia Canteiro, M.Sc, Plant and Fungi Coordinator

Plants and fungi have been the focus of Cátia Canteiro’s career for more than 10 years, beginning with conservation planning and action, including environmental impact assessments, monitoring studies and the restoration of temporary ponds. She’s worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London and for the past five years, assessed the extinction risk of more than 500 species for the IUCN Red List. 

Sérgio Henriques, M.Sc, Invertebrates Coordinator

As the chair of the IUCN SSC Spider and Scorpion Specialist Group, Sérgio Henriques uses his more than 15 years of experience mobilizing resources to promote arachnid conservation. He regularly engages with a global network, including other IUCN specialist groups and the Invertebrate Conservation Committee, to tackle threats such as the illegal wildlife trade, using the latest technological tools to reverse the ongoing decline of the most diverse group of organisms on earth, invertebrates.

Mimi Kessler, Ph.D., Bird Coordinator

Wildlife biologist and ornithologist, Dr. Mimi Kessler is an authority on the ecology and management of lekking birds — birds that gather for communal courtship displays. For 15 years, she has been dedicated to research and conservation for bustards, the most threatened terrestrial family of birds. She serves as Deputy Chair of the IUCN SSC Bustard Specialist Group and founded the Eurasian Bustard Alliance. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with the Mongolian government to advance continental-scale conservation for endangered bustard populations via the Convention on Migratory Species.

Riley Pollom, M.Sc, Marine Coordinator

As a marine resource management officer for Parks Canada, Riley Pollom studied and conserved endangered Southern Resident killer whales and serves as the British Columbia Key Biodiversity Areas Regional Coordinator for Canada’s Wildlife Conservation Society. For the past four years, Riley has worked internationally as a Red List Officer for the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group and has worked with Project Seahorse and the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group to complete more than 600 marine species Red List assessments. He has held roles with The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service and the Calgary Zoo.

Nicolette Roach, Ph.D., Reptile and Amphibian Coordinator

A member of the IUCN SSC Climate Change, Amphibians and Small Mammals Specialist Groups, Dr. Nicolette (Nikki) Roach spent the last three years leading and designing biodiversity and sustainability projects in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. She was the Director of Communications for the Latin American and Caribbean Section of the Society for Conservation Biology and a US Fulbright Scholar – Colombia (2017-2018). From 2015-2017, she led the IUCN Red List assessments for small mammals of the western hemisphere and has led IUCN Red Listing workshops in Mexico and Brazil.

Angela Yang, M.Sc, Mammals Coordinator

Leading a team with more than 150 global projects, Angela Yang’s most recent role as the Chief Conservation Officer at Rainforest Trust fostered collaboration and built local capacity to protect the most critical tropical habitats for endangered species in the world. Prior to Rainforest Trust, Angela worked for more than 12 years with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London, overseeing conservation programs in Asia, Africa and the Americas. She is a member of two IUCN Cross-cutting Specialist Groups.

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