News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
April 26, 2016
Note: Images of animals being featured at the expo may be downloaded below.
African Painted Dog
Humboldt Penguins
Reticulated Giraffe

International Wildlife Conservation Expo Returns to Brookfield Zoo
Experts from Around the World Gather for One-Day Event

Brookfield, Ill.—The 2nd annual premier international conservation expo features researchers from around the world who will present their work and their contributions to their respective fields. The event is a partnership between the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) and will take place at Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, May 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“This conference provides the opportunity to exchange knowledge with researchers, scientists, animal care specialists, and veterinarians from around the world so that we can continue to advance the welfare and sustainability of endangered animals,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.

"WCN was built on the premise that one person can truly make a difference for wildlife,” said Charles Knowles, Wildlife Conservation Network president and cofounder. “We look forward to welcoming the incredible conservationists to this year’s program as we work together to inspire people to take action to protect endangered wildlife around the globe.”

Six national and international leaders in the conservation field are scheduled to give half-hour inspirational and informative presentations in the zoo’s Discovery Center and Bramsen Animal Ambassador Pavilion:

  • Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, oversees hospital operations and veterinary care of the animals at Brookfield Zoo. He is one of only 170 board-certified specialists in zoological medicine and a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine. Dr. Adkesson sees the power that healthy animals can have in inspiring zoo visitors to take conservation action to help protect wildlife and wild places. He has authored numerous scientific publications and book chapters, holds adjunct faculty positions with the University of Illinois and Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru, and is a mentor to students. Dr. Adkesson oversees the Society’s marine conservation program at Punta San Juan in Peru and is an expert in wildlife medicine for penguins and pinnipeds. Dr. Adkesson also serves as the current vice president for the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and is a tireless advocate for professional advancement.
  • Shivani Bhalla, a Kenyan conservationist with more than a decade of experience in the field, is the founder and executive director of Ewaso Lions. Kenya’s lions are protected through innovative science and community-based programs that promote coexistence between people and wildlife. Because the decline in African lions is due primarily to habitat destruction and human interference, programs like Ewaso Lions are vital to a healthy and sustainable population of these beautiful animals.
  • Peter Blinston is the executive director of Painted Dog Conservation (PDC). The African painted dog population has dwindled to less than 7,000. Blinston and PDC are developing pragmatic and holistic strategies that make a substantial, lasting contribution to the species, nature conservation, and, very importantly, to the lives of the local people. Through antipoaching units, a rehabilitation facility for injured or orphaned dogs, conservation education initiatives like a children’s bush camp, and community development and outreach, PDC is addressing critical issues to improve the quality of life for people and these animals alike.
  • Susana C├írdenas-Alayza is the in-country director of the CZS Punta San Juan Conservation Program. The Punta San Juan Marine Protected Area protects critical breeding populations of Humboldt penguins, Peruvian fur seals, and other endangered marine wildlife in Peru. Collaborating with Cayetano Heredia University and the Peruvian government, C├írdenas-Alayza conducts conservation research on population dynamics and marine use by top marine predators. She also leads community engagement, education, and capacity-building programs that focus on developing conservation actions to protect marine wildlife. The program and site serve as a model for an entire network of marine protected areas in Peru.
  • John Doherty, project coordinator of the Reticulated Giraffe Project, leads this organization to reverse the current population decline of reticulated giraffes in East Africa. Through the coordination of efforts of a large and varied network of contributors, the network is developing and supporting research and solutions for this dire problem. The work spans from behavioral ecology, population dynamics, and trauma-free telemetry to supporting advocacy and awareness of the most important stakeholders: local human populations. This common purpose unites villagers in the troubled border regions to the east, camel herders in the northern desert, children in the slums of Nairobi, and tribal elders who remember the days when giraffes were still abundant.
  • Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder and CEO of Save the Elephants, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on African elephants. Save the Elephants is dedicated to conducting groundbreaking elephant research. By following elephants living in northern Kenya, this organization identifies these amazing animals’ land and resource needs. Because of his expansive research and breadth of knowledge, Douglas-Hamilton was the first to alert the world to the poaching crisis. In 2010, he received the coveted Indianapolis Prize, and in 2014, the Chicago Zoological Society honored him with the George B. Rabb Conservation Medal.

Throughout the day, zoogoers can also stop by the East Mall to meet representatives from more than 30 local, national, and international organizations who are advancing conservation leadership and animal welfare. They will be on hand to share information and to engage guests on how they can get involved in a variety of environmental efforts. Organizations include Cheetah Conservation Fund, Wildlife Society, Illinois Humane, Eden Place, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fox Valley Wildlife Center, Conservation Foundation, and Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Guests are also encouraged to explore the zoo and meet some of the animal ambassadors.

The cost to attend the six lectures is $50 (students with ID pay $25), which includes admission to the zoo and a box lunch. Proceeds will benefit local, national, and international conservation efforts. East Mall exhibits are free and open to zoo guests all day. To purchase tickets, visit For further information, call (708) 688-8670 or email

The Wildlife Conservation Expo is presented by Mountain Travel Sobek, Lori and Ted Souder, Patricia Price, and Stephanie and Matthew Fisher.


Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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