2013 ZACC Keynote Speakers - Blank Park Zoo

2013 ZACC Keynote Speakers



Keynote Speakers
Jeff Flocken
Patricia Medici
Julian Fennessy, PhD
Joel Sartore
John Lukas


Jeff Flocken - Opening Keynote Speaker

Jeff Flocken is the DC Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare where he leads the organization's policy experts advocating for animals such as polar bears, lions, whales, tigers and elephants. Flocken has worked for the US government doing international species conservation; has consulted on movies, books and television shows addressing wildlife issues; and is the co-founder of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) initiative, providing training for up-and-coming wildlife leaders. Jeff has long been a friend to ZACC, having given presentations at past conferences. He recognizes the significance of bringing people together to solve conservation problems. Jeff has been a source of support to future conservationists through his mentorship and encouragement both with zoo colleagues as well as those researchers working in the field. Most recently, Jeff has co-authored a book with Julie Scardina titled: "Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They Are Committed to Saving." Wildlife Heroes released in Spring 2012 has been featured on a variety programs including National Public Radio.

We are honored to have Jeff open up this ZACC conference for us as he embodies all that is best about conservation - a willingness to work together, encouraging others, and the ability to recognize colleagues for their passion and commitment to making a difference.



 Patricia Medici

Patrícia Medici is a Brazilian conservation biologist whose main professional interests are tapir conservation, tropical forest conservation, metapopulation management, landscape ecology, and community-based conservation. Patrícia has a Bachelor's Degree in Forestry Sciences from the São Paulo University (USP - Universidade de São Paulo), a Masters Degree in Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG - Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), Brazil, and a Ph.D. Degree in Biodiversity Management from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, United Kingdom.

For the past 20 years, Patrícia has been working for a Brazilian non-governmental organization called IPÊ - Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research) of which she was one of the founding members together with Cláudio and Suzana Padua. Since 1996, Patrícia coordinates the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil and dedicates her life to tapir conservation in Brazil. Since 2000, Patrícia has been the Chairperson of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group (TSG), a network of over 120 tapir conservationists from 27 different countries worldwide. Lastly, Patrícia has been a facilitator of the Brazilian Network of the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) since 2004.

Patrícia has been honored with three very prestigious conservation awards: Harry Messel Conservation Leadership Award from the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2004, Golden Ark Award from the Golden Ark Foundation in the Netherlands in 2008, and Whitley Award from the Whitley Fund for Nature in the United Kingdom also in 2008. More recently, Patrícia received the 2011 Research Prize from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.



 Julian Fennessy, PhD

Julian is an independent environmental consultant, and the conservation scientist and co-founder (current Board member) of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) – the only international organisation dedicated to securing the conservation of giraffe in the wild. As one of the foremost experts on giraffe, Julian is the current Chair (and co-founder) of the IUCN SSC ASG International Giraffe Working Group which is planned to become and independent Specialist Group (with Okapi) in the coming months. Julian has initiated, implemented and/or supported giraffe conservation and research projects across Africa, including individual projects, national strategies, supervision of post-graduate students, population and country-wide assessments, and expert advisor on (sub)species conservation for governments and NGOs.

More broadly, Julian has more than fifteen years of experience in conservation and sustainable development throughout Africa and Australia. He is the former Director of the Namibia Nature Foundation, Executive Director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust, and Ecology Manager of Bush Heritage Australia.



 Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore is a photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic Fellow, and a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine. His hallmarks are a sense of humor and a Midwestern work ethic. Joel specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes in order to show a world worth saving. He is the founder of The Photo Ark, a multi-year documentary project to save species and habitat.

In his words, “It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.”

Joel has written several books including RARE: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, Photographing Your Family, and Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky. His most recent book, Let’s Be Reasonable is now available wherever books are sold.
In addition to the work he has done for National Geographic, Joel has contributed to Audubon Magazine, Time, Life, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and numerous book projects. Joel and his work are the subjects of several national broadcasts including National Geographic’s Explorer, the NBC Nightly News, NPR’s Weekend Edition and an hour-long PBS documentary, At Close Range. He is also a regular contributor on the CBS Sunday Morning Show with Charles Osgood.

Joel is always happy to return to home base from his travels around the world. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife Kathy and their three children.



John Lukas

John Lukas was the Director of White Oak Conservation Center (Florida) for 30 years. At the Center species of special concern, such as Florida panthers, cheetahs, rhinos, okapi and Mississippi sandhill cranes, are studied and propagated to contribute to the overall survival of their kind.

Active in international conservation, he is the president of a conservation non profit which raises funds for the Okapi Conservation Project in the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo which protects the wild population of okapi through the support of wildlife rangers and assisting local communities to become better stewards of their natural resources.  John Lukas is a founding member and vice-president of the Wildlife Conservation Network, which provides operating funds and technical support for entrepreneurial conservationists working on the front lines of wildlife field programs.  He is also a founding member and the president of the International Rhino Foundation, which operates and funds in situ protection and research studies for rhino in ten countries worldwide. He serves on the boards of  SEZARC and Envirovet and the the Conservation Action Trust in Kenya.  John and his wife Vanessa are long standing trustees of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, which supports a very successful program in Namibia to preserve cheetah habitat and educate local residents on successfully coexisting with cheetah.

Mr. Lukas graduated from St. Anselm’s College and received his Master’s Degree in vertebrate zoology from Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Biology in 1973.  He started his zoological career at the Stoneham Park Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, followed by one year in British Columbia developing educational programs for the Okanagan Game Farm.  For 6 years, he was the resident curator for the New York Zoological Society’s Rare Animal Survival Center on St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia.   After getting to know Howard Gilman during a safari to Africa in 1980, he consulted on expanding the conservation programs at White Oak and became the Center’s first director in 1982.


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