Bruce Museum to host panel discussion on wildlife conservation

In conjunction with the summer exhibition “National Geographic Photo Ark,” the Bruce Museum will host “Conservation Conversation” on Tuesday, June 26, from 6-8 p.m. This live, interactive discussion features a diverse array of local wildlife conservation experts including Gregg Dancho, Director of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo; Peter Gottesman, Founder, Endangered Species Revenge; Jim Knox, Curator of Education at the Beardsley Zoo; Dara Reid, Director of Wildlife in Crisis; and Tim Walsh, Bruce Museum Collection Manager.

“Conservation Conversation” will raise vital questions about the impact of zoo breeding programs on endangered species, how to stop the trafficking of endangered species across the planet, and how individuals can make a difference in the fate of Connecticut’s own endangered species. This conversation will be mostly driven by audience participation, so come with an inquisitive mind and questions for our panelists. More about who they are:

  • Gregg Dancho has been the director of the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT since 1983. Ever since his childhood, he has harbored a passion for wild animals. A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in zoology, Dancho brought the zoo official accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 1987, which launched the zoo into a new world of groundbreaking conservation and research. Since then, he has shepherded enormous growth in visitors, numerous improvements, and significant achievements in wildlife conservation.
  • Jim Knox directs education and wildlife conservation programs at the Beardsley Zoo. He studied animal science at Cornell University and has had an impressive career in the field of wildlife conservation. He is the writer and host of PBS’ WildZoofari, and is also an on-camera wildlife expert for The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, and Fox News. He has studied a diverse range of species, from Alaskan bears to rhinos. Currently, Knox lectures at UCONN and serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Biology Department at Post University.
  • Peter Gottesman is the entreprenuerial founder of Endangered Species Revenge, a wildlife conservation groupthat uses humor and professional animation to attract people to join the fight to save animals. Gottesman received his BA in History from Columbia University and his MBA in Entrepreneurship & Marketing from Babson College. He has studied wildlife management in Kenya, tropical forest ecology in Costa Rica, and has traveled the world to meet with wildlife biologists. Putting his experience in marketing and publishing to work for wildlife conservation, he has created animated characters ranging from the villainous Carbonita and the buffoonish Smyke to enraged endangered animalsPicasso the Painted Dog, Cleopatra the Cheetah, and the pink dolphin Olivia from Bolivia.
  • Dara Reid founded the nonprofit organization Wildlife in Crisis in 1988 in Weston, CT. Reid has backgrounds in both wildlife biology and veterinary science, leading her to create the only wildlife veterinary hospital in Connecticut. This volunteer-run organization seeks to return about 5,000 animals per year back into the wild after rehabilitation, educate visitors about the endangerment of wildlife, and preserve wild stretches of land. Each year, the organization fields more than 15,000 phone calls and works tirelessly to give injured animals a second chance in the wild.
  • Tim Walsh has focused much of his career on conservation research and awareness, co-authoring his first scientific article at the age of 15 and later earning degrees in zoo animal technology and museum studies. His interestin conservation began with snakes but shifted to turtles, his specialty ever since. He has worked in the zoo/public aquarium/museum field for the past 27 years. In addition to Tim’s role as Collection Manager with the Bruce, he is Assistant Director of the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust and a member of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.

The evening program is designed to promote discussion about wildlife conservation and complements the “National Geographic Photo Ark,” on display at the Bruce through September 2, 2018. The exhibition features 50 large-scale photographs selected from the ambitious work of National Geographic photographer and Fellow Joel Sartore.

In what will be the largest archive of studio-quality photography of wildlife ever, Sartore aims to photograph every species in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. By the end of the project, Sartore estimates that the completed National Geographic Photo Ark will feature 12,000 portraits of different species. This momentous project will not only inspire viewers to help protect these endangered species, but will also provide an essential international platform for conservation.

“Wildlife conservation can be a very abstract concept, but the National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition brings animals and their plight to life in front of our eyes,” says Kate Dzikiewicz, the Bruce’s Paul Griswold Howes Fellow and the event organizer. “Without intervention, many of the animals displayed in Photo Ark face extinction within our lifetime. We hope this exhibit and its associated programs will inspire visitors to take a more personal interest in conservation, and maybe help pull some of these species back from the brink.”

Light refreshments will be served during the reception, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Bantle Lecture Gallery. The panel discussion will start at 6:30. This evening program is free to Bruce Museum members and students with ID and $15 for nonmembers who register in advance at brucemuseum.org. At the door, admission will be $25 for nonmembers and $10 for Bruce members and students. The Museum doors will open at 5:50.

The “National Geographic Photo Ark” exhibition at the Bruce Museum is supported by The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund, Judith and Stephen Wertheimer, Connecticut Office of the Arts, Gabelli Funds, and Guardian Life. In partnership with the exhibition, the Bruce Museum announces a special membership offer: With every purchase of a new annual membership ($40 and up) through June 30, 2018, the Bruce will make a $15 donation to the National Geographic Photo Ark, which funds cutting-edge conservation and habitat restoration work around the globe. To join the Bruce, visit brucemuseum.org and use the promo code Photoark15.

An endangered baby Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross, Pongo pygmaeus x abelii, at the Houston Zoo. —Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

An endangered baby Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross, Pongo pygmaeus x abelii, at the Houston Zoo. —Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

An endangered Malayan tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni, at Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo. —Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

An endangered Malayan tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni, at Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo. —Photo by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark

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