You Can Join in the L.A. Zoo’s Work to Support Gorilla Conservation

In 2016, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) awarded the Los Angeles Zoo the International Conservation Award for our work with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) benefiting critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas. The population of this subspecies has been rapidly declining, and orphaned gorillas receive desperately needed care and sanctuary from poaching and conflict at GRACE.

The L.A. Zoo’s General Curator, Beth Schaefer, is Co-Chair of the GRACE Animal Care and Welfare Advisory Group. She, along with staff from other AZA-accredited zoos, have made several trips to the GRACE Center in the DRC to share their knowledge and techniques for successful gorilla care, medical training, and to consult on building new facilities. “My involvement in the GRACE program has allowed me the chance to utilize my skills as an animal manager to help save these gorillas from extinction … and hopefully get them back to the wild one day,” says Schaefer. She continues, “It’s why zoos are relevant, and it validates the work we do every single day as a zoo.”

“Rehabilitating critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas is something that has never been done before,” said Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE Executive Director. “We depend heavily on zoos like the L.A. Zoo because they are the world’s experts in gorilla care. They work closely with our Congolese staff to give them the skills they need to care for orphan gorillas. I have been so inspired by the level of commitment of our zoo partners. They regularly come out to our very difficult location and help us remotely year-round by serving on advisory groups. More than once, Beth Schaefer has been on the phone in the middle of the night to help our staff coax sick gorillas into taking their medicine! [The AZA International Conservation Award] highlights how zoo expertise is directly helping to save gorillas in the wild. We thank the L.A. Zoo for their amazing support of our work in the Congo.”

How You Can Help

  • Visit the L.A. Zoo. We fund and participate in wildlife conservation programs like GRACE all over the world. Your ticket purchase or membership supports this vital work.
  • Recycle hand-held electronic devices like cell phones and e-readers at the Zoo. Recycling through environmentally responsible partners like ECO-CELL means protecting fragile wildlife habitats that are being destroyed by unsustainable mining for minerals used in these devices. Look for the ECO-CELL bin just inside the front gate at the L.A. Zoo.
Eco Cell box at the front of the L.A. Zoo