SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund Announces 2014 Grant Recipients

Photo: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens

Photo: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens

The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has just announced its plans to fund 57 wildlife conservation projects around the world. Just over 1$ million is being distributed among multiple projects, bringing the amount awarded since the Fund was created in 2003 to more than $11 million.

A majority of the grants awarded this year, as with every year, are for projects with defined timelines and long-term goals, but occasionally the fund receives requests for crisis grants when conservation organizations are faced with unforeseeable challenges such as natural disasters or virus outbreaks.

From the press release …

Crisis Grant – Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Photo: PRNewsFoto/SeaWorld/BuschGardens

Photo: PRNewsFoto/SeaWorld/BuschGardens

In late August, the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leon, West Africa, submitted a crisis grant for funding. Established in 1995, the sanctuary is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates orphaned or abandoned chimpanzees with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat.

A portion of the sanctuary’s expenses are typically covered by income generated by visitors to the sanctuary and its eco-lodges – the sanctuary has received a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. Due to the devastating Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leon , and the resulting drop in tourism to the area, the sanctuary’s funding was negatively impacted and the care of the chimpanzees jeopardized. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund board reviewed and approved the crisis grant request and provided financial support to offset their funding issues.

Standard Grant – Painted Dog Conservation

Wild African dogs, also known as painted dogs, are among Africa’s most endangered species. One of the biggest threats they face is poaching for bush meat. The Painted Dog Conservation organization has formed anti-poaching units that patrol 10,500 square kilometers in Zimbabwe, removing snares laid by poachers. The Fund has supported the organization by providing funding for these small yet highly trained groups.

“The support from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens remains pivotal to the success of Painted Dog Conservation,” said Peter Billiston, Managing Director of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. “The fact that they have supported our anti-poaching units for many years shows that they really understand the complexity of wildlife conservation. They understand that permanent change does not happen overnight and it takes long-term committed support to make a difference.”

Standard Grant – South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds 

African penguins are classified as endangered, and their numbers are in rapid decline. The wild population is down to two percent of the original one million breeding pairs counted in 1930. The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) works to rehabilitate adult penguins and to raise abandoned chicks in an effort to increase the wild population. Research indicates that the wild African penguin population is 19 percent higher entirely due to SANCCOB’s oiled wildlife response efforts. The SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has supported SANCCOB not only with financial support but has also sent aviculturists from SeaWorld to South Africa to assist with penguin rehabilitation.

Standard Grant – Ecology Project International 

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is the world’s fourth most important nesting beach for critically endangered leatherback sea turtles. Without protection from illegal harvesting and other threats, 80 percent of leatherback sea turtle nests are lost. The Ecology Project International (EPI) protects leatherback populations by working to reduce the illegal harvest of nests and improving nesting habitats. They also will work with Costa Rican teachers and students to increase their ecological knowledge so they can better understand their role in the long-term survival of leatherbacks and conservation in general.

Photo: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens

SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund

A 501 (c)(3) non-profit private foundation, the Seaworld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund focuses its resources in four areas: Species Research, Habitat Protection, Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, and Conservation Education. Since its launch in 2003, the Fund has granted more than $10 million to more than 700 projects around the world. Grantees include global conservation organizations, zoological organizations, universities, and in-situ grassroots organizations.

The Fund provides an outlet for park visitors to help protect wildlife and, because SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment provides all administrative and development costs as well as staffing and infrastructure, commits 100 percent of donations to on-the-ground wildlife conservation efforts.

Photo: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens

Photo: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens

For more information on the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and the other projects supported by the Fund, visit them online or on Facebook.

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Photo: PRNewsFoto/SeaWorld/Busch Gardens

Photo: PRNewsFoto/SeaWorld/Busch Gardens

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