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Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award Goes To Karen Freeman and Jean Noel of Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group

John Allan Love Charitable Foundation, Mid America Chevy Dealers,
Kathy and Robert M. Williams, Jr. also honored

The Saint Louis Zoo announced its 2017 Conservation Award and three other Saint Louis Zoo Awards at its 26th annual Marlin Perkins Society Celebration on Nov. 15. The Marlin Perkins Society has grown from 48 to more than 1,100 members over the past 26 years and has generated nearly $25 million in revenue — all to help fund Zoo operations.

Conservation Award

The Conservation Award was presented to Karen Freeman, Ph.D., research director, and Jean Noel, manager, of the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), a consortium of international zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and universities who work in partnership with the Malagasy Government to conserve its rich biodiversity. The MFG is headquartered at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Freeman and Noel have worked together in Madagascar's Betampona Natural Reserve for the past 13 years with support from the MFG and the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Madagascar.

In citing the accomplishments of this year's Conservation Award recipients, Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, said "To date, the survival of its endangered plant and animal populations can be wholly attributed to the continual presence of the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group's research team and these two amazing individuals in the forest."

Besides her extensive research, Freeman works to build relationships with local and national officials in charge of environmental affairs, university professors and students, mayors and village leaders, NGOs and a network of researchers to draw attention to the significant threat invasive plants pose to the ecological structure of Betampona and other Malagasy rainforests.

Noel's passionate commitment to his native land's flora and fauna is demonstrated by the attention and care he pays to organizing the logistical needs of each researcher that works in Betampona. He has dedicated the past 20 years to protecting the rainforest that was approximately two miles from where he grew up in Madagascar.

Individual Award

The Saint Louis Zoo Individual Award was presented to Kathy and Robert M. Williams, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have provided the Zoo with 20 years of support through financial and volunteer service commitments. They have been members of the Marlin Perkins Society for over 17 years, are members of the Zoo's Heritage Society, and supported The Living Promise Campaign with both a leadership and legacy gift. Mr. Williams served four terms on the Zoo Association Board and is currently a member of both the Executive Committee and Facilities & Grounds Committee. The Williams' company, Williams Patent Crusher & Pulverizer, has provided several in-kind gifts, such as the beautiful metal gates that can be seen around the perimeter of the Zoo, and much more.

Corporate Award

The Corporate Award was presented to the Zoo's exclusive automotive partner and one of the Zoo's largest corporate sponsors, Mid America Chevy Dealers. Chevy's unique partnership entails year-round participation on Zoo grounds through event sponsorships and on-site promotions. Chevy is also a Marlin Perkins Society corporate member. Most recently, Chevy expanded their partnership with the Zoo by presenting the Zoo's newly available public Wi-Fi. Chevy has given over $1.3 million in support of the Zoo since 2013.

Foundation Award

The John Allan Love Charitable Foundation received the Saint Louis Zoo Foundation Award for its years of supporting the Zoo. The foundation has provided more than $300,000 in support to the Zoo through the past two capital campaigns and is recognized at the Bird Nursery Building, Sea Lion Sound and Centene Grizzly Ridge. Additionally, many of the foundation's trustees are personal members and supporters of the Zoo. The foundation was founded in 1974 by John Allan Love, a St. Louis businessman who had a strong interest in St. Louis culture and community service organizations.

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.