WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, June 21, 2022 — American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare practices, today announced that Dr. Jon Paul Rodríguez, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, is the recipient of the inaugural Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation. The “Kiessling Prize,” created in honor of Wolfgang F. Kiessling, the founder of Loro Parque and globally acknowledged leader in the conservation space, recognizes those who achieve signiﬁcant positive change in the ﬁeld of conservation practice, theory and research.
“American Humane is thrilled to establish the Kiessling Prize – honoring those who are leading the way in the field of conservation,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “This year’s recipient, Dr. Rodríguez, has made tangible, demonstrable contributions to saving the world’s magnificent animals and is a valiant advocate for good zoos and aquariums who are on the frontlines working to save species on the brink of disappearing forever. We are honored to bestow upon him this prestigious award.”
As the world’s animals face what scientists call a “Sixth Mass Extinction,” with up to one million species in foreseeable danger of disappearing forever, extraordinary eﬀorts to preserve the creatures of the Earth are more vital than ever – as are the scientists, researchers and advocates who devote their lives to these eﬀorts. The Kiessling Prize will be awarded annually to recognize individuals who embody Mr. Kiessling’s exceptional leadership, vision and commitment to conservation and the critical role that zoos and aquariums play.
Dr. Rodríguez was selected from a pool of dozens of candidates representing 16 countries across five continents who lead conservation projects that span the globe in virtually every aspect of conservation – including threat analysis, habitat restoration, genomics, species reintroduction, technology and innovation, and community-based solutions. Dr. Rodríguez has an undergraduate degree in biology from Universidad Central de Venezuela, a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University, and a Certificate in science, technology and environmental policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He chairs the IUCN Species Survival Commission, is a professor at the Center for Ecology of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Investigations, and is a founder, past board member and president of Provita.
“There is simply no higher purpose than that to protect and preserve our world’s most precious asset – animal life,” said Wolfgang Kiessling, president and founder of Loro Parque and Loro Parque Foundation. “We are grateful to Dr. Rodríguez for dedicating his life to animal conservation.”
The Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize committee is led by Wolfgang Kiessling, Christoph Kiessling, Cybell Kiessling, Dr. Javier Almunia, Dr. Robin Ganzert and Brad Andrews. The committee screened all applicants, ultimately choosing Dr. Rodríguez to be awarded the Kiessling Prize and a grant of US $80,000 to further his work to make signiﬁcant contributions to the practical application, research and theory of species protection. He will be recognized at the 2022 Kiessling Prize Awards Gala on Friday, June 24 in Washington.
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American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare, overseeing the humane treatment of more than one billion animals across the globe each year. Founded in 1877, American Humane has been First to Serve™ the cause of animals and for 145 years has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in the humane movement. For more information or to support our lifesaving work, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our channel on YouTube for the latest breaking news and features about the animals with whom we share our Earth.