Zoo establishes $1 million fund for elephant conservation

July 7, 2016 - 4:00pm

Oregon Zoo Foundation unveils endowment to benefit imperiled Asian elephants

In a presentation before the Metro Council today, the Oregon Zoo Foundation announced it has earmarked $1 million to establish a permanent endowment fund supporting Asian elephant conservation.

"This is a huge step in our long-term commitment to protecting Asian elephants," said Dr. Don Moore, Oregon Zoo director. "This is a species that desperately needs our help."

Moore noted that while the zoo has long supported conservation projects for Asian elephants, it previously lacked a dedicated funding source to do so. Earlier this year, for example, the zoo tapped the foundation's Endangered Species Justice Fund for $10,000 to buy milk-replacer formula for orphaned elephant babies in Borneo.

"In the past, it's sometimes been a case of catch as catch can," Moore said. "But now we have a permanent, self-sustaining source of funds specifically dedicated to making a direct and positive impact on Asian elephants. We're drawing a line in the sand to make sure Asian elephants don't go extinct."

The Asian elephant conservation fund is the foundation's fifth $1 million endowment in support of the zoo and its work. In 2008, a fund supporting day-to-day operations at Predators of the Serengeti was established. And in 2013, the foundation created three additional $1 million endowments benefitting conservation, education and animal welfare.

"We're proud to establish this new endowment and we hope to see it grow," said Rob Erickson, chair of the Oregon Zoo Foundation board of trustees. "Our community feels a strong connection to Asian elephants, and with the challenges these animals are facing in their native lands, the need for support of elephant research and conservation efforts that impact the survival of the species is greater than it's ever been. This endowment enables people to make a difference for elephants here and in their own range countries."

To contribute to the Asian elephant conservation endowment or learn about other ways to get involved, call 503-914-6029.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its Asian elephant program, which has spanned more than 60 years. Considered highly endangered in their range countries, Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans and disease. It is estimated that just 40,000 to 50,000 elephants remain in fragmented populations from India to Borneo.

photos courtesy Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit and HUTAN