March 1, 2023
The Indianapolis Zoological Society Inc., the presenter of the world’s leading award for animal conservation, today named the six Finalists for the Indianapolis Prize, an award that recognizes the most successful conservationists who have achieved major victories in saving an animal species or group of species. This biennial award provides the Winner with $250,000 and the remaining Finalists with $50,000 each.
“The victories achieved by this diverse group of people are remarkable and deserve our attention,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society. “They have dedicated decades of their lives to making an authentic difference for many animal species and demonstrate that one person has the power to make a difference.”
The six Finalists for the 2023 Indianapolis Prize are:
Christophe Boesch, Ph.D. (Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology; Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Germany) – Dr. Christophe Boesch fights to ensure a future for chimpanzees. Professor Boesch is a primatologist dedicated to providing alternatives to bushmeat and applying new technology to great ape conservation, decreasing strain on wild chimpanzee populations. He uncovered the effects of rapid deforestation across sub-Saharan Africa and promoted new areas for protecting the remaining chimpanzee populations in Guinea. He was a Finalist for the 2021 Indianapolis Prize.
Pablo Borboroglu, Ph.D. (Global Penguin Society, Argentina) – Dr. Pablo Borboroglu is a protector of ocean and coastal habitats for penguins in several countries including Argentina. Dr. Borboroglu works to improve penguin colony management through the creation of large, protected areas, including 32 million acres of ocean and coastal habitat. He is the co-founder and leader of the Global Penguin Society, an international conservation coalition for the world’s penguin species. Borboroglu is also the founder and co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Penguin Specialist Group.
Gerardo Ceballos, Ph.D. (Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico) – Dr. Gerardo Ceballos is at the forefront of groundbreaking research and animal conservation in Mexico, acting as a key proponent in the passage of the country’s Act for Endangered Species, which now protects more than 40,000 animals. Dr. Ceballos is a champion for jaguars in Mexico, conducting the first country-level jaguar census. Ceballos developed successful conservation strategies for endangered mammals in North America, including the black-footed ferret. He was a Finalist for the 2010, 2014 and 2021 Indianapolis Prize.
Karen Eckert, Ph.D. (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, WIDECAST, USA) – Dr. Karen Eckert specializes in international biodiversity management, conservation and policy with a focus on sea turtles. Dr. Eckert promotes the recovery and sustainable management of sea turtle populations in more than 40 nations and territories. Eckert has helped protect six species of endangered sea turtles and mobilized community and government support in Caribbean nations to fully protect sea turtles. She serves as the executive director of WIDECAST, an organization that facilitates the recovery and sustainable management of sea turtle populations across the globe.
Biruté Mary Galdikas, Ph.D. (Orangutan Foundation International, USA) – Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas is a scientist, conservationist and educator working closely with orangutans in their natural habitat in Borneo Indonesia. Dr. Galdikas is an orangutan researcher who first documented the long orangutan birth interval and recorded more than 400 types of food consumed by orangutans, providing unprecedented detail about orangutan ecology. Galdikas has contributed to the release of more than 1,000 rehabilitated orangutans into the wild and has rescued and relocated an additional 200 wild orangutans into the wild. She serves as president and is the co-founder of Orangutan Foundation International, an organization dedicated to protecting wild orangutans in Borneo and their rain forest habitat.
Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, DVM. (Conservation Through Public Health, Uganda) – Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is a wildlife veterinarian recognized globally for her work protecting endangered mountain gorillas in East Africa. Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka promotes conservation by cultivating an understanding of how humans and wildlife can coexist in protected areas in Africa. She is the founder of Conservation Through Public Health, an organization promoting biodiversity conservation by enabling people and wildlife to coexist by improving health and livelihoods in and around Africa’s protected areas.
A nine-person committee with ties to the scientific and conservation communities, the Indianapolis Zoological society and local community selected the six Finalists for the 2023 Indianapolis Prize. The Finalists were chosen because of their significant contributions to saving an animal species or multiple species, the measurable outcomes resulting from their work, the application and quality of scientific knowledge involved in their conservation efforts, the number of years dedicated to conservation work and a demonstrated spirit of cooperation.
“The Indianapolis Prize makes tremendous contributions to advancing conservation efforts around the world by providing a bigger platform for conservationists to reach members of the public and policymakers,” said 2021 Indianapolis Prize Winner and 2023 Indianapolis Prize Jury Member Dr. Amanda Vincent. “This year’s Finalists are impressive not only in their dedication to saving species, but also in their huge determination to achieve an impact despite the pandemic and global conflicts. Their commitment is both admirable and inspiring.”
The Winner of the 2023 Indianapolis Prize will be announced in May and will receive their award on Sept. 30 at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc. The Gala will be co-hosted by Anne Thompson, NBC News’ chief environmental affairs correspondent, and
Danni Washington, founder of the nonprofit Big Blue & You and a science communicator and influencer.
“The vital work of this year’s Finalists to save animal species is inspiring,” said 2021 and 2023 Indianapolis Prize Gala co-host Danni Washington. “I’m thrilled that their efforts are being recognized by the Indianapolis Prize Committee. Their accomplishments serve as an inspiration for the next generation of conservationists and makes me hopeful for a better future for our world.”