CAN Grant Program

At the OKC Zoo, Go Wild!

Conservation Action Now Grant

Our planet is changing at a perplexing rate. Wild animal populations and healthy habitats are declining rapidly. The Oklahoma City Zoo is actively supporting and helping to expand the conservation of these imperiled species, habitats and their surrounding communities. One small, but wide-ranging, way to fulfill this mission is through the Zoo’s annual Conservation Action Now (CAN) small grant program.

The Zoo awards these competitive small grants each December in amounts up to $2,500 each. The selected projects span the globe and are based on their proposed ability to address the following conservation ideals:

  • Conservation Education – building an awareness of a conservation program that can effect change.  

  • Scientific Research – research projects that have a direct impact on conservation of an imperiled species or habitat in its native location.

  • Species Preservation – direct care or work with an imperiled species which results in an improved capability to preserve that species in its native habitat.

Congratulations and thank you CAN grant awardees! Your passion for, research of and dedication to these endangered species will have a lasting effect on the earth’s wildlife and wild places. The Zoo is proud to partner with you in these endeavors. Together, we CAN make a difference!

Guidelines and Application

The Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden is committed to supporting the conservation of imperiled species, habitats and their surrounding communities through species preservation, research and education. The Zoo is offering competitive small grants in amounts not to exceed $2,500.00 each. 

The 2018 application period has closed. Next year's application will be available in early August 2019. 

Grants will be awarded based on proposal merit and in accordance with one or more of the following purposes:

  • Conservation Education – building an awareness of a conservation program that can effect change. 

  • Scientific Research – in-situ or ex-situ research projects that have a direct impact on conservation of an imperiled species or habitat in its native location.

  • Species Preservation – direct care or work with an imperiled species in-situ or ex-situ which results in an improved capability to preserve that species in its native habitat.

Requests will not be considered for the following:

  • Salaries, with the exception of locally hired support staff.

  • No more than 20% of awarded funds can be used towards travel expenses (travel expenses are defined as air and ground transportation).

  • Awarded funds cannot be used for direct mail solicitations, funds reimbursement or annual campaigns.

Additionally, if awarded a grant:

  • The Oklahoma City Zoo must be recognized in all project publications and two copies of the publication must be submitted to the Oklahoma City Zoo Library.

  • A project update is required within one year after funds are dispersed and a final report is required upon project completion.

  • Individuals or institutions/organizations may re-apply annually after a project update has been submitted, but are not guaranteed additional funding.

  • Checks will not be made out to individuals.

Instructions: Download and fill out the CAN application completely. All fields within the application must be completed in order to be considered. Imcomplete applications will NOT be considered. Except the letter of commitment, which should be attached separately. The 2018 application period has closed. Next year's application will be available in early August 2019. 

2017 Small Grant Awardees

Awardee:  Rudianto Sembiring, Indonesian Species Conservation Program

Project: “Mitigating the conservation of Sunda pangolin, Manis javanica, in North Sumatra”

Summary:  Pangolins are highly sought after on the black market for their scales, which many believe carry medicinal properties.  Despite the lack of evidence that there is any medicinal property in the pangolin scales, demand remains high and populations are in severe decline.  Confiscations of illegally traded animals are becoming more common and the animals are often released back into the wild without proper medical treatment and often die due to their illnesses or are recollected quickly by poachers.  This projects aims to build a rehabilitation and quarantine center for the treatment and care of confiscated animals with the goal of release back into the wild.  In addition, information about wild populations will be collected and community awareness events will conducted to gain local support for pangolins and aid in conservation of the species. 

Amount: $2,360


Awardee:  Robert Davis, Nottingham Trent University

Project: “The status and behavioral ecology of leopards (Panthera pardus) in a human impacted miombo woodland”

Summary:  This study will look at leopard populations and how they are adapting to humans encroaching into their habitat.  The study will take place in Malawi, in an area with high rates of environmental degradation due to deforestation and agriculture.  Humans are continuing to move into and destroy the forests and it is unknown if leopard populations can survive.  Using GPS radio collars and camera traps, researchers will study leopard populations and determine how human activity is altering their movements and habitat utilization.  Researchers will also be looking at what leopards are eating to see if they are able to adapt and successfully compete with other predators for food in the altered habitat.  This information can then be used to better determine how humans and wildlife can best coexist together for the benefit of both.

Amount:  $1,700


Awardee:  Kerryn Carter, Elephant Connection Research Project

Project: “Connecting wildlife through Zambia’s transboundary wildlife movement corridors in the Kavango Zambezi Tranfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA)”

Summary:  The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, in southern Africa, is one of the world’s largest conservation areas.  However, the Zambian component is facing ongoing habitat loss through illegal land clearing which is threatening several species of wildlife.  Researchers aim to study the movements of key species, African elephants and giraffes, by using GPS satellite collars.  By studying animal movements through the conservation area, landscape evaluations can be completed and the land use needs of the wildlife can be determined.  This will help ensure that vital habitat is protected and remains intact, without human conflict, for the health and continued viability of these wild populations. 

Amount:  $2,500


Awardee:  Elsbeth McPhee, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Project: “A multi-pronged approach to understanding low reproductive success in the Eastern migratory population of endangered whooping cranes”

Summary:  The population of whopping cranes is estimated to be around 500, making it one of the most endangered species in North America and most of the birds reside as a single group making them susceptible to natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks.  Since 1991, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership has worked to establish a second, self-sustaining, population of birds that breed in Wisconsin.  The birds have done well but have had low reproductive success with a chick survival rate of <10%.  The aim of this study is to understand the cause(s) behind the high chick mortality rate.  This will be accomplished by monitoring nests and examining chicks, assessing how cranes utilize the habitat and how habitat selection varies, and by studying the relationship between whooping cranes and bald eagles to see if bald eagles are a cause of chick mortality.  Data collected will be used to help modify conservation practices to improve chick survival.

Amount: $2,500


Awardee:  Cherie Schroff, Felidae Conservation Fund – Tsavo Cheetah Project

Project: “Tsavo Cheetah Project: Community education and human-cheetah conflict investigations/assistance within group ranches and settlements in between the Tsavo National Parks, Kenya”

Summary:  Tsavo Cheetah Project was developed to conserve cheetah populations in Southeast Kenya, where threats to the species include human conflict, habitat loss and poaching.  Researchers work with local communities to help find sustainable solutions to issues with human-cheetah conflict and to educate community members about cheetahs.  To date, the organization has developed cheetah ecosystem programs in eleven schools in the Tsavo East area and now propose to expand into additional communities in Tsavo West National Park.  By expanding education and conservation efforts, researchers can help secure safe corridors for cheetahs to move freely between populations.

Amount: $940

2016 CAN Grant Awardees

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