INDIANAPOLIS - The winner of this year's Indianapolis Prize, who will be honored this weekend in Indianapolis, says the Indianapolis Zoo is emerging as a global leader in biodiversity and conservation. Russell Mittermeier, whose work focuses on species and ecosystem survival, says the zoo's leadership is doing a "magnificent job in advancing the cause of conservation through this prize."

Mittermeier says the role of zoos is evolving from simply being places where people can see animals to being active participants in conservation and biodiversity projects around the world. To that end, he says the Indianapolis Zoo is "one of the best zoos in the world."

The honor comes with $250,000 in prize money, which Mittermeier says he will use to leverage additional donations toward causes such as biodiversity, species preservation and tropical forest protection. He is a two-time finalist for the prize, and now the seventh winner. Mittermeier will receive the Lilly Medal Saturday at the Indianapolis Prize Gala in Indianapolis.

Mittermeier, the chief conservation officer for Global Wildlife Conservation, says one of his top priorities is getting younger generations interested in conservation. In speaking to students in Indianapolis today, Mittermeier said, "We made our mistakes in our generations, and now it's up to them to take this cause forward."