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Wildlife Conservation Society Honors The Walt Disney Company for Commitment to Protecting Wildlife

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) honored Sir David Attenborough and The Walt Disney Company at its annual Gala 2016: We Stand for WildlifeSM for their commitment to protecting the incredible wildlife of the natural world.

Guests came together at WCS’s historic Central Park Zoo to celebrate WCS’s 120-year commitment to advance wildlife conservation. The evening began with a cocktail reception around the sea lion pool featuring life-size, animal cut-outs and a walking oyster bar, followed by dinner and dancing under the stars. Notable attendees included: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Lucy Liu, Katie Lee, and Bobby Flay. Sponsors included Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic and La Perla.

The gala program featured remarks by WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper, who  spoke about WCS’s mission to save wildlife and wild places around the world. To achieve its mission, WCS harnesses the power of its zoological parks in New York City (the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo) with its conservation field programs in nearly 60 nations and all the world’s oceans.

Said Samper: “As a global community we face a critical dilemma that can no longer be pushed off to future generations. If our planet is to sustain us, then we must sustain our planet. As human beings, we connect to nature with a force as strong as the pull of gravity. We depend on nature. Zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, national parks, the conservation movement—indeed, the Wildlife Conservation Society—were all created with a desire to maintain and strengthen that connection. WCS upholds its historic focus on the protection of wildlife while developing an ambitious plan to engage with a rapidly changing world. Nature replenishes our souls but the moment we take the persistence of wild places for granted, they may begin to perish. We stand as an organization to make sure that will not happen.”

The Walt Disney Company was honored for its longstanding collaboration with WCS that spans more than seven decades. Disney’s relationship with WCS began when Walt Disney visited what was then the New York Zoological Society to seek advice on the development of Disney’s “True-Life Adventures” films. Since then, Disney and WCS have worked together to protect wildlife and ecosystems around the world by allocating funds, and working with in-the-field scientists to advocate for important issues that protect the world’s most endangered species. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund, a key pillar in Disney’s efforts to protect the planet and connect kids with nature, which has provided more than $3 million in grants to support WCS’s field conservation projects.

“Disney applauds the Wildlife Conservation Society as a leader in conservation action, education and innovation, and we are immensely proud of the impact that our collaborative efforts have produced in more than 40 countries over the past 20 years,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Environment and Conservation, Corporate Citizenship, The Walt Disney Company. “The Wildlife Conservation Society’s 2020 strategy maintains a significant focus on the protection of species, a shared value of the Disney Conservation Fund, and together we hold ourselves to the highest standard of preserving the planet while inspiring lifelong conservation values in kids and families.”

Additionally, the evening spotlighted Sir David Attenborough for devoting his life’s work to celebrating and protecting the natural world. Attenborough’s efforts began more than 50 years ago with the launch of his famous Zoo Quest series, just one of many milestones in his career. Attenborough is credited with transforming nature documentaries which introduced cutting-edge filming techniques and brought a new understanding and appreciation for wildlife into the homes of millions worldwide.

“The Wildlife Conservation Society is operating around the world doing marvelous work, so there is no honor that I could appreciate more greatly,” said Sir David Attenborough.

The event proceeds go to support WCS’s work to save wildlife and wild places worldwide. WCS runs the world’s largest field programs for great ape, elephant, and tiger conservation and protects many of the world’s most threatened terrestrial and marine areas with a concentrated focus on six species: elephants, apes, big cats, sharks & rays, whales & dolphins, and tortoises & freshwater turtles. WCS inspires citizens, local communities, and governments to advocate to protect our Earth and instill a shared respect for nature starting now and for generations to come.

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