Lewis and Clark to kick off conservation symposium at zoo

Speakers will include Nikita Zimov, director of Siberia's Pleistocene Park

Nikita Zimov, director of Siberia's Pleistocene Park, joins experts from the Oregon Zoo Oct. 14 for an evening of conversation about conservation, presented by the Lewis & Clark College environmental studies program.

The event, which kicks off Lewis & Clark's 16th annual environmental affairs symposium, will be hosted at the Oregon Zoo's Cascade Crest ballroom from 6 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. Admission is $10.

This year's symposium, which runs Oct. 14-18, explores "The Nature of the Unnatural" — modifications of our biophysical surroundings that are considered "unnatural." Experts will discuss issues such as genetically modified organisms, species resurrection, rewilding, ecological restoration and artificial intelligence.

At the Oct. 14 kickoff event, Zimov will speak about the past and future of the mammoth steppe ecosystem, Oregon Zoo condor keeper Kelli Walker will discuss aspects of the zoo's participation in the California Condor Recovery Program, and Oregon Zoo education curator Grant Spickelmier will address the changing nature of zoos and their increasing focus on wildlife education and conservation.

Zimov is the director of Pleistocene Park, a project that is importing megafauna like horses, bison, tigers — and perhaps even clones of the wooly mammoth — into Siberia to cause massive landscape-scale ecological change. As the animals adapt, a newly engineered ecosystem will develop that mimics the function of Siberian grasslands at the end of the Ice Age. Once one of the world's dominant biomes, these grasslands will serve as a large-scale experiment, help solve unanswered questions about the roles of humans in early mass extinctions, and could — by acting as a carbon sink — become a major part of the fight against global climate change.

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The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org