Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo marked Endangered Species Day and the 50thAnniversary of the Endangered Species Act today with speakers and the presentation of the Zoo’s first annual ‘Achievements in Conservation Award.’ Senator Richard Blumenthal and Stephanie Kurose, senior endangered species policy specialist for the Center for Biological Diversity, both spoke at the ceremony.
This year, the 18th annual Endangered Species Day also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a landmark piece of legislation that institutionalized our national commitment to the conservation of fish, plants and wildlife and the places they call home.
Jennifer Farrell, a Zoo educator for more than seven years, was chosen as the first recipient of the Achievements in Conservation Award for outstanding contributions to the field of conservation. Her advocacy and outreach efforts include directing the Zoo’s Citizen Science programs, FrogWatch USA, and Monarch Watch. The FrogWatch program trains volunteers to participate in a sound identification census and report data that is collected into a national scientific database. Farrell was also instrumental in establishing Monarch Watch, the monarch butterfly tagging program, at the Zoo. Hundreds of monarch butterflies have been tagged, including one individual butterfly that was identified in Mexico, verifying its journey of 2,657 miles from Bridgeport.
“Jennifer is a roll-up-her-sleeves conservation who leads by example,” said Education Curator Jim Knox. “ Jen realizes that individuals need to realize the potential impact they can have on the protection of wildlife species and wildlife habitat.”
Zoo Director Gregg Dancho presented the award to Farrell, sharing an anecdote about witnessing a young boy who was given a newly tagged butterfly to hold on his palm by Farrell. When the butterfly flew away, the boy turned to his parents and said, “This was the best day of my life.” “That young boy may become a environmentalist or biologist someday,” Dancho said. “That’s the impact of the programs that Jen has directed at the Zoo.”
The Achievements in Conservation Award was created by the Zoo for the 50th anniversary of the ESA and is designed to honor individuals who advance the cause of conservation through activities that lead to the protection of the natural world. The Zoo wishes to recognize individual efforts to work for restoration of a fragile world beset by climate change, risk of extinction for plants and animals, resource depletion, and other environmental issues. The intent is to celebrate leadership in conservation, and to promote optimism that by working together, we can solve the environmental challenges facing us. The award includes a trophy and a $250 grant to the recipient’s cause of choice.
“Every year on the third Friday in May, the world comes together to celebrate successes in conservation and to bring awareness to action required to save threatened and endangered species,” said Dancho. “We created the Achievements in Conservation Award to be presented annually, to shine a light on the importance of protecting our biodiversity for future generations.”
Many of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s animals are endangered or threatened in their natural habitats, including the Andean bear, red and Mexican Wolves, Brazilian ocelot, Amur tigers and leopards, golden lion tamarins and others.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has a proud history of over 100 years as Connecticut’s only Zoo. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and participant in its Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, we are committed to the preservation of endangered animals and are actively developing strategies that will protect species and preserve their wild habitats.