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Chicago Zoological Society Announces Recipients of Conservation Leadership Awards

CZS to Honor Dennis and Connie Keller, Dr. Kate Evans and Exelon Corporation for Conservation Efforts at Nov. 2 Event



Brookfield, Ill. - The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2011 Conservation Leadership Awards. The awards will be presented to Dennis and Connie Keller, Dr. Kate Evans, and Exelon Corporation for their significant impact on conservation efforts locally and around the globe. The special evening, which will benefit CZS' conservation and education initiatives, will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago on Wednesday, November 2.

"Conservation is the cornerstone of every environmental, educational, and animal initiative at the Chicago Zoological Society and is embodied in our mission of inspiring conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature," said Dr. Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of the Society. "This year's honorees share the Chicago Zoological Society's hope for a world where people reconnect with nature and engage in more sustainable behaviors. We are proud to recognize their collective impact on conservation efforts around the world."
The Corwith Hamill Lifetime Achievement Conservation Award is being presented to Dennis and Connie Keller for their lifetime commitment to wildlife and nature. Dennis Keller has been involved with several conservation organizations, including serving on the CZS' board of trustees. He is also the current chair of the board of trustees for the African Wildlife Foundation and board member for Mpala. Connie Keller was the past Illinois chair of the board of trustees for The Nature Conservancy.

CZS and the African Wildlife Foundation formed a partnership to try and save the black rhinos that are endangered in their native Africa due to increased desertification as a result of global climate as well as being hunted for their horns (which are used in traditional medicine). In addition, Dennis is a supporter of the Mpala Research Center in Kenya, where Princeton ecologists, biologists and engineers collaborate with colleagues from around the world on issues related to the sustainable use of land, water and animal resources. Together, Connie and Dennis supported a partnership between the Nature Conservancy and African Wildlife Foundation to help improve the resilience of key landscapes and local populations to growing environmental and societal challenges.

Dr. Kate Evans, director and founder of Elephants for Africa, is the recipient of the 2011 George B. Rabb Conservation Medal. Founded in 2007, Elephants for Africa is a conservation and education group dedicated to finding viable solutions for elephant conservation in Botswana and southern Africa. The organization supports research, as well as education programs including a scholarship program for local students to enable them to carry out their postgraduate degree. In addition, the organization supports an outreach education program that allows youth from the local communities to experience wildlife, and explore ways to make research, farming, and conservation compatible.

John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon, will accept the Edith Rockefeller McCormick Corporate Conservation Award on behalf of the company for its Exelon 2020 initiative. Announced in 2008, Exelon 2020 is a business and environmental strategy to reduce, offset or displace more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020. As of 2010, Exelon had eliminated more than half of its 2001 carbon footprint, which is equivalent to taking approximately 1.5 million cars off the road. As part of the Exelon 2020 strategy, Exelon as of 2010 had cut energy use at its facilities by 25 percent, built the nation's largest urban solar plant on Chicago's South Side and introduced energy efficiency programs to help electric customers in Chicago and Philadelphia reduce their energy use and save money.

CZS has partnered with ComEd and Exelon, which is providing fresh browse-leaves, twigs, and branches from trees-for Brookfield Zoo's black rhinos and many of its other animals. Fresh browse is a natural method for promoting the animals' overall health and is a great source of enrichment.

For further information about the Chicago Zoological Society's Conservation Leadership Awards Dinner and to make reservations, call (312) 553-2000. Tickets are $500 per person and tables of 10 are also available.

The Chicago Zoological Society's mission is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For more information, go to