Lion expert Craig Packer joins impressive list of award recipients

CINCINNATI (May 4, 2017) – For the last 25 years, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has presented its Wildlife Conservation Award to one of its Barrows Conservation Lecture Series speakers. The 2017 award was presented on May 3 to Dr. Craig Packer, a distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, for his outstanding work with lions in the Serengeti.

“Dr. Packer has conducted field research and conservation in East Africa for the past 30 years and is considered the world authority on the African lion.  This award is particularly fitting since the Cincinnati Zoo has supported lion and other African predator conservation for more than 25 years,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard.

      It’s notable that the 25th recipient of the Zoo’s conservation award began his field work in Africa as an assistant to the first recipient, Jane Goodall.  The list of conservationists who have been honored with the award also includes Ted Turner, E.O. Wilson, John Ruthven and many other internationally-known figures.

“All recipients of Cincinnati Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Award have at least one thing in common,” said Maynard.  “Passion.  That’s what it takes to be a thought leader and inspire others to take conservation action.”

In Dr. Packer’s case, his passion for African lions and wildlife has shined a spotlight on animal population decline and its causes.  He established a large-scale citizen-science project called Snapshot Serengeti that has inspired 130,000 people to help classify animals found in millions of images generated from hundreds of camera traps in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.  The classifications have been found to be 97% accurate and, therefore, have generated a useful database of animals and their activity in the region.

The dedication of the conservationists that the Zoo has chosen to honor has benefitted communities and species including African painted dogs, elephants, jaguars, black-lion tamarins, gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, cheetahs, giraffe and more.