Red Panda Cubs

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! This year's application window has closed, but stay tuned for application details for 2020. 


2018 Small Grant Awardees

Awardee:  Kerryn Carter, Elephant Connection Research Project

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

Amount awarded: $2,500

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.  This is the second year that Dr. Carter has received a small grant.

Awardee:  Leonard Eo, Itombwe Génération pour l’Humatité

Project title: “Conserving Grauer’s gorilla in the Mwana Valley of Itombwe Natural Reserve, Democratic Republic of Congo”

Amount awarded: $2,500

Summary:  Due to bushmeat hunting and habitat loss, Grauer’s gorillas are the most at-risk populations on the Itombwe Mountains today. A recent survey shows that populations of gorillas first documented by the Wildlife Conservation Society had decreased, from 181 individuals in 1996 to about 73 in 2017. This project is intended to protect and increase the numbers of gorillas in the Mwana Valley. Seven Community Patrol Teams will conduct routine foot patrols in the Mwana Valley to track gorillas and guard them against illegal activities of poaching and habitat destruction. Meetings will also be organized to educate local people in the Mwana Valley on gorilla conservation. The results will contribute to the recovery of Grauer’s gorilla in the wild, with a strong potential for national and even global impact.   

Awardee:  Louise Baldwin, Cape Town Environmental Education Trust

Project title: “The Kedestes Butterfly Conservation Project”

Amount awarded: $2500

Summary: This project aims to secure the future of two threatened Kedestes butterfly species endemic to the Cape Flats region in Cape Town, South Africa. The first species (Kedestes barberae bunta), has an extremely low abundance estimated at just 50 individuals and is projected to go extinct within the next five years, in the absence of immediate conservation measures.  The second species, Kedestes lenis lenis is restricted to only five known localities which is being destroyed due to urbanization and invasive species. These particular species are unable to travel long distances and as such the highly fragmented remains of appropriate habitat are inaccessible to them. The project's long term aims are to prevent K.b.bunta from becoming extinct by improving and protecting the remaining. Research will also be carried out to establish captive breeding programs and identify new sites for future reintroductions.

Awardee:  Gregg Tully, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance

Project Title: “Releasing great apes into the wild demonstrating reintroduction as an effective conservation strategy”

Amount awarded: $2500

Summary: This project will be the first research that studies the successes, challenges, and conservation impact of every reintroduction of African great apes to the wild. Furthermore, it will provide evidence of the effectiveness of reintroductions as a strategy for the conservation of endangered species.  The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) is a network of 23 wildlife centers across 13 African countries securing a future for Africa’s primates. An experienced primary researcher will collaborate closely with nine PASA member wildlife centers in five African countries to coordinate data collection and analysis of all great ape reintroductions. With the help of global experts, we will create and widely distribute a comprehensive best practices guide for the reintroduction of all African ape species at numerous release sites, thereby improving the effectiveness of future reintroductions.

Previous CAN Grant Awardees

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