Protector of Penguins Earns World’s Leading Award for Animal Conservation
Dr. Pablo Borboroglu announced as winner of the 2023 Indianapolis Prize

Protector of Penguins Earns World's Leading Award for Animal Conservation


published May 16, 2023


Today officials from the Indianapolis Zoological Society Inc. announced Pablo Borboroglu, Ph.D. as the 2023 Winner of the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation. Borboroglu is an internationally recognized expert on penguin ecology and land and sea conservation. The announcement was made in London as celebrations and media events are taking place there in his honor.

Borboroglu has spent more than three decades studying penguins and leading conservation efforts across four continents. In 2009, he founded and currently serves as the president of the Global Penguin Society, which has protected 32 million acres of penguin marine and terrestrial habitat. Through gaining an understanding of breeding, feeding and migration, his team can better understand the habitat needs of the species, which leads to better protections of penguin populations.

“Dr. Pablo Borboroglu is responsible for major achievements in understanding penguin behavior and ecology. He has preserved millions of acres of critical penguin habitat, which is an astonishing achievement. He is a powerful, optimistic and expert voice for animal conservation and is extremely deserving of this year’s Indianapolis Prize,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc.

Borboroglu is the co-founder and co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Penguin Specialist Group, which helps to assess the conservation status and advance international penguin conservation action. He has been instrumental in creating protected wildlife areas in Argentina and implementing conservation strategies in several countries. In the same year that he founded the Global Penguin Society, he discovered only six breeding pairs of penguins at the El Pedral colony on the eastern coast of Argentina. After successfully designating that area as a wildlife refuge and reducing human impacts, the area is now home to 4,000 pairs.

“I am incredibly humbled and grateful to be named the 2023 Indianapolis Prize Winner. This prestigious award will be instrumental in supporting efforts to protect penguins and their habitat,” said Dr. Pablo Borboroglu, president of the Global Penguin Society. “Needing both land and sea, penguins face unprecedented threats requiring large-scale change. Through this award, we hope to inspire and encourage people around the world to take decisive action in safeguarding the environment. It is only through our collective efforts that we can ensure our environment and its wildlife are able to thrive.”

Borboroglu also led efforts to create “Blue Patagonia” – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – which protects 40% of the global population of Magellanic penguins and the most biodiverse area of Argentina. Home to 67 species of animals, more than 120 species of birds and nearly 200 species of marine invertebrates, this is Argentina’s largest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, encompassing 200 miles of coastline and 7.6 million acres of land and ocean. In total, Borboroglu has coordinated the development of management plans for eight protected areas since 1998 in Chile and Argentina. In the creation of these plans, he focuses not only on penguins, but also on supporting local communities. Protected areas are drivers of ecotourism and sustainable development, resulting in job creation.

Borboroglu is also dedicated to educating the next generation. His Global Penguin Society education program has reached more than 200,000 students and community members across Latin American nations. Efforts include leading field visits for 7,000 students who live near penguin colonies as well as the creation of free books and educational material in both English and Spanish.

“Pablo’s commitment and dedication to protecting penguins is unwavering,” said Edward Whitley Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature. “His decades of perseverance, research and leadership are profoundly inspiring to us all.”

Borboroglu studied biological sciences at the National University of Patagonia and received his Ph.D. in biology from the National University of Comahue in Argentina. He is a researcher at Argentina’s National Research Council (CONICET) and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington.

Borboroglu is the ninth Winner of the Indianapolis Prize and the first from South America. Founded in 2006, the Indianapolis Prize recognizes and rewards conservationists who have made significant progress in saving an animal species, or multiple species, from extinction. Winners receive an unrestricted $250,000 – the largest monetary award in the world that supports conservationists. Borboroglu, five 2023 Indianapolis Prize Finalists and the inaugural Emerging Conservationist Award Winner will be celebrated at the Indianapolis Prize gala on Sept. 30, 2023.

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