“A zoo is a place that combines the idea of preserving the environment and the role that humans play in that preservation,” says Dr. Amy Harrison-Levine, Director of Field Conservation Programs at Denver Zoo. I interviewed her earlier this year as we engaged in a partnership between Denver Zoo and Palm Done Right. This collaboration has shaped over our shared mission to encourage people to change their behaviors and make different choices to protect wildlife.
A little over 21 years ago, Dr. Amy Harrison-Levine started working for Denver Zoo. After working in educational roles for 10 years she got recruited into a field conservation team, which perfectly matched with her Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology. “The good thing about conservation is that education is an integral part of the equation. To inspire people around the world to take action and change behavior has tremendous impact on the environment,” says Amy.
Amy now oversees a variety of Denver Zoo’s field conservation programs, but her personal story is mostly tied to the Zoo’s conservation work in Vietnam, to preserve a critically endangered primate called the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. This primate is threatened by hunting and habitat loss due to local communities’ forest harvesting to collect timber for cooking and construction.
Denver Zoo’s conservation work centers around collaborating with these local communities, and finding solutions that work for them, in order to be sustainable in the long run. “What our conservation work can bring is new ideas and new perspectives, to find ways where community life and wildlife protection go hand-in-hand,” explains Amy.
Protecting Natural Habitats
Just like the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey has lost a great deal of its natural habitat to local logging, wildlife in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America is losing its habitats to agricultural conversion, notably for palm oil production.
Bringing it closer to Ecuador, Palm Done Right’s production area, one of the species that captured our attention is the Linne’s two-toed sloth, one of Denver Zoo’s most sought-out Up-Close Looks and soon to be spotted in the Zoo’s new sloth habitat in its Tropical Discovery exhibit. In its natural home, the Ecuadorian cloud forest…