Finalists for Indianapolis Prize 2018 conservation award revealed

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The Indianapolis Zoo announced six finalists for the 2018 Indianapolis Prize, the top prize in the world for animal conservation.

This year's finalists focus on ocean life, arctic species and classic biology.

The winner will be announced in late spring and will receive a $250,000 award. The other five finalists will each receive $10,000.

The Indianapolis Prize is presented every two years. They will be honored at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins, Inc. in September.

"The Indianapolis Prize Finalists are consistent winners in the ongoing battles to save threatened species,” said Michael I. Crowther, chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc., which administers the Indianapolis Prize as one of its signature global conservation initiatives. In a press release announcing the finalists, Crowther is also quoted saying, “By telling the stories of their heroism and victories, the Indianapolis Prize aims to inspire more people to work for a planet that future generations will be happy to inherit, rather than be forced to endure."

Five of the six finalists this year have been finalists in previous years.

Here are the finalists for the 2018 Indianapolis Prize and the descriptions of their work:

Joel Berger, Ph.D. (Colorado State University; Wildlife Conservation Society) — Distinguished scientist leading projects examining the effects ofclimate change on musk ox in the Alaskan Arctic, the impacts of energy development on wildlife in Greater Yellowstone,the threat of large carnivores on the conservation of endangered species such as Andean deer (huemul),the development of pronghorn antelope migration corridors, and saiga antelope conservation in Mongolia. Finalist for the 2014 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D. (University of Washington; Center for Ecosystem Sentinels) — Conservationist dedicated to the study of global warming's impact on penguins; successful in stopping both harvesting and the development of oil tanker lanes through penguin colonies.Finalist for the 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. (Deep Ocean Exploration and Research; Mission Blue; SEAlliance) — Oceanographer, author and founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc., Mission Blue and SEAlliance. Focused on researching ocean ecosystems, developing new exploration technologies and creating a global network of marine protected areas. Led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater.

Rodney Jackson, Ph.D. (Snow Leopard Conservancy) — Conducted first radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the 1980s; leader in engaging communities as co-equals in successful conservation strategies; collaborator in a range-wide genetic study that revealed the likelihood of three subspecies of snow leopards, contributed to their reclassification from endangered to vulnerable, and continues to create innovative conservation solutions across large portions of the species’ vast geographic range. Finalist for the 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

Russell Mittermeier, Ph.D. (Global Wildlife Conservation) — Visionary leader able to motivate every level of conservation to support the greater good of many species, including saki and muriqui monkeys and other neotropical primates; one of the first academic primatologists to become concerned with the welfare and conservation of primates. Finalist for the 2012 and 2014 Indianapolis Prize.

Carl Safina, Ph.D. (The Safina Center) — Brought ocean conservation into the environmental mainstream by using science, art and literature to inspire a "sea ethic." Established a sustainable seafood program, connecting science-based criteria with consumers; led efforts to ban high-seas drift nets and reform federal fisheries laws. Finalist for the 2010, 2014 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

The winner of the 2018 Indianapolis Prize will be announced in the spring and will be honored at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc. on Sept. 29, 2018.

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