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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

14 PAWsome Animal Conservationists

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Who’s PAWsome?!

“Mom! Mom! Wake up!”

“Umm…. Er… Arghhhhh!”

“Fine. But really, Mom. You gotta wake up!!”
“Right now, Kimber? It’s two o’clock in the morning!”

“No time like the present. Especially when announcing a Stroke of Genius from Yours Truly!”

And that’s how Mom and I came up with this post about famous animal conservationists. (Well, it was mostly me. Mom helped. A little.)

We just finished reading a book on a coupla animal conservationists from the mid-1900s. It was… a slog. Like, pass the No Doze.

So one of us thought we’d come up with our own list. Kinda like Who’s Who of Animals Conservationists List. For hoomans who’ve dedicated their lives to saving and protecting animals. Cuz what’s cooler than saving and protecting animals? (Well, there was that nice, thick slab of filet mignon… But I think Mom’s forgotten about that.)

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. PAWsome animal conservationists. Several have written some excellent books. So here goes our totally subjective and 100% unscientific list of 14 PAWsome Animal Conservationists. In no particular order. Holler if you recognize any of these peeps. Or want to add someone:

14 PAWsome Animal Conservationists

Jane Goodall. Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim/ Wikipedia.

1. Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall has studied the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she was 26 years old. Today, she is considered to be the world’s top chimp expert and activist. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute to protect primates and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Marlin Perkins. Public Domain

2. Marlin Perkins

Those of us older than dirt (Hi, Mom) may recall Sundays with Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Before Perkins became a television host, he worked at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. During his time at the zoo, he joined mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary as a zoologist for a Himalayan expedition in search of Yeti. He began hosting the zoo’s “Zoo Parade” show, which led to his work on “Wild Kingdom.”

After working to protect endangered species through the program, he cofounded the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, now known as the Endangered Wolf Center, in 1971. The sanctuary still breeds wolves to be placed in their natural habitats.

3. Li Quan

Wildlife conservationist Li Quan coined the concept of rewilding captive tigers when she saw the poor conditions in which they were living in South China. 

She works to create set-it-and-forget-it sanctuaries introducing predators and keystone species to protected wildlife regions. The process allows animals born into captivity to develop the skills they need to survive in the wild. That way, they can pass on those skills to the next generation, which can then be “rewilded.”

Quan founded the charitable foundation Save China’s Tigers in 2000. Its goal is to save China’s tigers from extinction. It now has offices in Hong Kong, the U.S., and the U.K.

4. Jack Hanna

A former Ohio zoo director, Jack Hanna became a regular guest on “Good Morning America” and the “Late Show with David Letterman,” where he brought national attention to his Ohio post. Hanna soon had his own show, “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures”—and, eventually, a string of others.

After 1992, Hanna became the director emeritus of the zoo. Under his leadership, the zoo raised $3 million annually for conservation efforts around the world. Hanna is the founder of Jack Hanna’s Heroes and has received the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award for his work in conservation.

Paula Kahumbu. CC BY-SA 3.0

5. Paula Kahumbu

Paula Kahumbu is a wildlife conservationist and chief executive officer of  WildlifeDirect. She is best known as a campaigner for elephants and wildlife, spearheading the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign, which was launched in 2014 with Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta

While much of Kahumbu’s work centers around Kenya’s elephants, she’s also led the organization in conservation efforts surrounding chimpanzees, African painted dogs, and other endangered species.

Dian Fossey. Wikipedia.

6. Dian Fossey

The subject of the movie “Gorillas in the Mist,” Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for her study of mountain gorilla groups in Rwanda. Fossey created the Karisoke Research Center and the Digit Fund, named after her favorite gorilla who was killed by poachers. The fund is now the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and enables anti-poaching patrols to continue in the area where Fossey was murdered in 1985.

Birute Galdikas. CC BY 2.0

7. Birutė Galdikas

Galdikas is Canadian anthropologist, primatologist, conservationist, ethologist, and professor. Her research and rescue of the world’s endangered orangutans spans 40+ years. She’s a top authority on these fascinating primates. Birute studied orangutans in their Bornean habitats and has since focused on rehabilitating orphaned orangutans and advocating for the species’ protection. She founded the Orangutan Foundation International in 1986 to preserve the orangutans’ rainforest home.

John James Audubon. Britannica.

8. John James Audubon

If you know anything about birds, this name should be familiar. John James Audubon is well known today for the National Audubon Society, the conservation organization he inspired. But his biggest legacy may well be the change he helped bring about in the nation’s collective attitude toward wildlife and natural beauty with his lifelike drawings of North American birds.

Jacques Cousteau. Image credit.

9. Jacques Cousteau

Who hasn’t seen – or at least heard of – The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau? Yeppers. Cousteau was a filmmaker who pioneered scuba gear and sailed around the world educating people about oceans and marine life. He used his documentary work to battle against commercial whaling and inspire a passion for oceans. He founded The Cousteau Society to protect marine life in 1973.

10. Steve Irwin

Crikey! Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin was a poster child for conservationism in the 1990s with his hit TV show, The Crocodile Hunter. Behind the scenes of his show, Irwin also actively worked to protect wildlife. He founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation (now Wildlife Warriors Worldwide), the International Crocodile Rescue, the Lyn Irwin Memorial Fund, and the Iron Bark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility. He also advocated for eco-tourism and sustainable consumer choices prior to his 2006 death from a stingray injury.

11. Theodore Roosevelt

He started out as a big game hunter. But Teddy Roosevelt later became a passionate conservationist and a true friend to all things wild.

After seeing the decimation of the West, Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service. He established hundreds of bird sanctuaries, game preserves, national forests, and national parks. His creation of bird refuges likely prevented further mass killing of island bird species for their highly valuable feathers.

Mardy Murie and Olaus at their home, Grand Tetons, 1953. Public domain.

12. Margaret “Mardy” Murie

Called the “Grandmother of the Conservation Movement,” Murie promoted the 1964 Wilderness Act. The Act protected 9.1 million acres of federal land and created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The latter’s 19 million acres make it the largest national wildlife refuge in the country. Murie received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Joy and George Adamson. Kenya Buzz.

13 and 14. Joy and George Adamson

Joy and George Adamson introduced us to Elsa the Lioness and the book Born Free, which inspired an award-winning, heart-warming film, that continues to melt hearts everywhere. Joy and George Adamson were the pioneers behind this incredible journey and their conservation legacy continues today. They founded the Elsamere Conservation Trust, which has been instrumental in many conservation and education projects since its inception.

An author and artist, Joy memorialized the Adamsons’s unique relationship with Elsa in her series of Born Free books. Meru National Park, in the 1960s, was one of the world’s most famous places, thanks to Joy Adamson’s Born Free.

Mom loves this book. She loves the movie. See our review of Born Free here.

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