Philadelphia Zoo Hosts 6th Annual Global Conservation Gala

PHILADELPHIA, PA (November 4, 2015) – Philadelphia Zoo will host its 6th Annual Global Conservation Gala, an occasion that honors individuals for extraordinary contributions to wildlife and the natural world, on Thursday, November 12th, at the Hyatt at the Bellevue at 6 p.m. Since its inception in 2010, the Gala has been an important component of the Zoo’s mission to connect people with wildlife, create joyful discovery and inspire action for animals.

This year’s Gala will recognize and honor the following award recipients, who steward the planet through commitment and action:
As a former Chairman of the Board for seven years, Jay H. Calvert, Jr., (Conservation Impact Award) has been a tireless champion for the Philadelphia Zoo, wildlife and conservation. He encouraged the Zoo’s leadership team to think boldly, in new and unconventional ways which resulted in the creation of Zoo360. Throughout his tenure, Calvert has led the Zoo to ever higher achievements in animal conservation. His thoughtful approach and enthusiasm is evident in the many accomplishments realized during that time, which include nearly $90 million of completed capital projects: the Zoo’s first parking garage; KidZooU, a state-of-the-art children’s zoo; McNeil Avian Center, a cutting-edge immersive bird habitat; and multiple segments of Zoo360. These projects have immeasurably improved the Zoo for animals and guests, and received tremendous recognition from the public, regional, national and international media, industry leaders and area influencers as well as conservation and sustainability professionals. Dick and Marilyn Faris, (Trail Blazer Award), have a relationship with Philadelphia Zoo that spans more than two decades. During this time the Faris’s have been a driving force for innovation and impact offering bold, creative and cutting-edge ideas while working diligently to test, hone, refine and implement those concepts into actions. Additionally, their exceptional generosity and support of Zoo360 and one of the Zoo’s most significant exhibits, KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo and Faris Family Education Center, recognized in 2014 as “Exhibit of the Year” by AZA, has enabled hundreds of thousands of children from underserved areas, as well as those with special needs, the opportunity to connect with wildlife, share in the excitement and be inspired by what this state-of-the-art exhibit has to offer. The unparalleled vision, commitment and passion from the award recipients has been instrumental to the success of Philadelphia Zoo.

“The Zoo’s Global Conservation Gala marks an annual opportunity for the Zoo, as a conservation leader, to honor and celebrate individuals who are positively impacting wildlife and habitats here and around the globe,” says Vikram H. Dewan, Philadelphia Zoo, President & CEO. “This year’s Gala awardees are all remarkable individuals whose efforts and dedication have helped make significant advancements in conservation. Additionally, this year we will highlight Zoo360, a first-in-the-world animal trail and exploration system that is changing the way animals and humans alike are experiencing our zoo. This pioneering exhibit serves as a model for other zoos around the world.”

From its inception in 2011, Zoo360 has received overwhelmingly positive responses from both animals and guests alike. Each year since the original Treetop Trail, used by smaller primates like monkeys and lemurs, additional Zoo360 trails have been built. In 2012, Great Ape Trail opened for orangutans and gibbons; 2013 launched an extensive corridor expanding Treetop trail to connect with PECO Primate Reserve; 2014 welcomed Big Cat Crossing, inviting tigers, lions and other large cats to travel outside of First Niagara Falls; in 2015 Gorilla Treeway opened and our majestic gorillas enjoyed new overhead vistas.

Zoo360 creates unique and dynamic ways for visitors to engage with wildlife while providing exciting opportunities for animals to travel, roam and explore. Since the first pilot project, the Zoo has seen encouraging evidence that Zoo360 is having a positive impact on the animals. Studies show that the animals are voluntarily using their expanded habitats and are performing a variety of behaviors not possible in most traditional exhibits, including long-distance bounding and running, spending time apart from exhibit mates and engaging with a broader array of environmental stimuli that Zoo360 encompasses.

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America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, the Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats.  The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the Zoo welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors last year.  The Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  To donate to the Zoo’s education and conservation programs, become a member or to purchase tickets please visit  Philadelphia Zoo is a non-smoking facility.