Indianapolis Prize Winner to Use Award as Leverage

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(Image provided by the Indianapolis Zoological Society.) (Image provided by the Indianapolis Zoological Society.)
INDIANAPOLIS -

The winner of this year's Indianapolis Prize wants to use the honor and the $250,000 in prize money to serve as a multiplier for his wildlife conservation efforts. Russell Mittermeier, who was a finalist twice previously, says he plans to use the platform and part of the funding to leverage additional donations toward causes such as biodiversity, tropical forest protection and saving individual animal groups and species. He is the seventh winner of the prize and has been in the field for some five decades.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Mittermeier said the recognition -- often called the Nobel Prize of Conservation -- is the most significant award of his career. "It's highly prestigious," he said. "Coming back to the people who have already received it -- and not just those who have won, but also the other finalists that have been in there, including this class of five other finalists -- these are some of the greatest leaders in the history of conservation. So, it's really become the best-known prize in the business, as far as I'm concerned."

Indianapolis Zoological Society Chief Executive Officer Michael Crowther has high praise for Mittermeier's decades of work and influence. "Russ Mittermeier is a consummate scientist, a visionary leader, a deft policy advocate and an inspiring mentor to many. Perhaps most important, he is a consistent winner in the battles for species and ecosystem survival. Russ is considered the world's preeminent primate conservationist and has observed more primate species in the wild than anyone else... ever. In part because of his efforts, primates remain the only larger group of mammals to have not lost a single species or subspecies to extinction in the last 100 years."

Mittermeier developed the concept of Biodiversity Hotspots -- areas throughout the world where living organisms are in very high concentration -- Megadiversity Countries -- 18 nations on Earth responsible for two-thirds of all global biodiversity -- and High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas -- biologically-rich areas such as the tropical forests of Amazonia and the Congo.

Mittermeier will receive the Lilly Medal and be honored at a ceremony September 29 at the Indianapolis Prize Gala in Indianapolis.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Russell Mittermeier said the recognition -- often called the Nobel Prize of Conservation -- is the most significant award of his career.
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