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November 21, 2019

2019 Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award Goes to Forest Park Forever

AFB International, The Staenberg Group, Geraldine Hufker and Celeste Ruwwe also honored with Zoo Awards.

The Saint Louis Zoo announced its 2019 Conservation Award and three other Saint Louis Zoo Awards at its 28th Annual Marlin Perkins Society Celebration on Nov. 13, 2019. The Marlin Perkins Society has grown from 48 to more than 1,100 members over the past 28 years and has generated nearly $30 million in revenue — all to help fund Zoo operations.

Conservation Award

The Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award was presented to Forest Park Forever. For over 30 years, the nonprofit conservancy has worked to enhance the ecological diversity of Forest Park and create the recreational and educational opportunities for students and adults that make Forest Park the number one city park in the country. Through partnerships with the City of St. Louis and Missouri Department of Conservation, Forest Park Forever created the Nature Reserve, an area that spans 194 acres in the Park. These partnerships have restored wetlands, prairies, savannas and forests that are important homes for wildlife. Forest Park Forever has been a key partner for the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Forest Park. The joint work to remove invasive plant species, restore the savanna and undertake a controlled burn of the Deer Lake prairie has created a richer ecosystem for native wildlife. Forest Park Forever also partners with the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine team to track box turtle health within the Park. By collaborating with students to track and collect data from box turtles, invaluable information is learned about the health of ecosystems in the Park. These and other science-based field trips to the Park also provide unique experiential learning opportunities for underserved students and inspire the next generation of conservationists.

Individual Award

The Saint Louis Zoo Individual Award was presented to Geraldine (Gerry) Hufker and Celeste Ruwwe, dedicated Zoo volunteers for 40 years with a combined 21,150 plus volunteer hours. Their involvement includes serving as ambassadors, docents, information booth volunteers and tour guides. They have served on committees, helped with countless Zoo events and were even chimpanzee-sitters for Holly and Bakhari when they were babies. Hufker and Ruwwe are 15-year Marlin Perkins Society members, Zoo Heritage Society members, and have given generously to The Living Promise Campaign and the upcoming Primate Canopy Trails exhibit.

Corporate Award

The Saint Louis Zoo Corporate Award was presented to The Staenberg Group (TSG). Founded in 2012, TSG is built on the philosophy of creating superior shopping centers with a commitment to the community and a dedication to the environment. During the acquisition of the Zoo’s new property in north St. Louis County in 2018, TSG was integral in negotiating on the Zoo’s behalf. Michael Staenberg, President at TSG, and Tim Lowe, Vice President of Leasing and Development, decided to forego the $250,000 commission on this deal. With TSG’s generous donation of time and expertise, the Zoo is able to grow its conservation efforts and connect millions more visitors with the natural world in St. Louis. In addition to TSG’s support of the Zoo, Mr. Staenberg and his wife Carol, are 14-year Marlin Perkins Society members and have supported several Zoo fundraising efforts including Saint Louis Zoo 2004: Gateway to the Animal World Campaign, and ZOOFARI.

Foundation Award

AFB International received the Saint Louis Zoo Foundation Award. The global science and technology leader in pet food palatability is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ensign-Bickford Industries, Inc., headquartered in St. Charles with state-of-the-art-the-art facilities around the world. Since its first gift in 2007, the company and its employees have consistently worked to assist the Zoo in its animal welfare and conservation education endeavors. AFB, and the Ensign-Bickford Foundation, have provided over $125,000 in financial contributions to the Zoo. These grants have supported scholarships for educational programs, funded nutrition and browse studies in the Orthwein Animal Nutrition Center, and important inclusion facilitators for children with special needs at Camp KangaZoo and Camp Joey. Additionally, AFB staff are regular participants at the Zoo, volunteering to create enrichment devices and tools for the animals that stimulate their natural behaviors, curiosity and growth in their habitats at the Zoo.

About the Awards

The Individual, Corporate and Foundation Awards are presented by the Saint Louis Zoo Association to honor those Zoo supporters and advocates whose commitments exceed expectations in contributing both time and resources to the Zoo.

The Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award is presented by the Saint Louis Zoological Park Commission to recognize the achievements of someone who has contributed to the understanding and appreciation of wildlife throughout his or her lifetime.