A New Year’s Message of Hope from SDZG President/CEO Paul Baribault

PAUL A. BARIBAULT

It seems that ringing in a new year sparks something inside all of us. There’s celebration of the past, anticipation of the future, renewed hope, and often a resolve to change—to turn a page. The last year was among the most challenging in our 104-year history, but we found ways to adapt. We continued to provide the best possible care for the wildlife at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and our efforts to save and protect endangered species worldwide persevered. Our commitment to wildlife is stronger than ever.

We are now three weeks into our second closure of the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—marking only the second time in our history that this has happened. Back in June, we were grateful to reopen after the first round of closures, with the support of local leaders and our community. We reopened with requirements that none of us could have previously imagined. Requirements that our incredible team at San Diego Zoo Global handled with strength—together—providing a safe environment for our staff and visitors to enjoy.

And although our doors are closed to the public once again, we continue to innovate in ways to make our wildlife available to the community. Throughout both closures, we have collaborated to create a host of new experiences, so guests can engage with us at home—including thousands of hours of wildlife webcam video streams, online educational experiences, groundbreaking social media programs, and more. 

Our conservation efforts also continue to thrive. We recently celebrated the birth of a Przewalski’s horse clone, which quickly has become a symbol of hope and inspiration worldwide for the future of conservation research, thanks to our incredible team of scientists right here in San Diego and our partners who helped make it possible. And in just a few short weeks, we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the devastating megafires that Australia faced. For the first time in our history, we used visitation at our parks to raise awareness and more than $1 million for disaster relief and wildlife-saving efforts in Australia. And, as we all faced the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, our team members stood tall, rising to the occasion and working with disease experts to ensure that the wildlife in our care was safe, while sharing our expertise in biosecurity with the USDA, AZA, and other organizations, further supporting efforts to protect wildlife around the world.

We are proud to have cultivated lifelong connections between people and wildlife. People of all ages—from all corners of the globe—have visited the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park to experience powerful moments with wildlife, making memories and enhancing their appreciation for the earth’s most cherished plants and animals. Along the way, we’ve also tackled conservation programs, fueling scientific initiatives and discoveries that have literally changed the world for endangered wildlife. Two paths: each essential, each a rich part of our history.

San Diego Zoo Global unites those paths, infusing our guest experience with our conservation efforts. We celebrate the partnerships between our San Diego-based wildlife experts and people around the world who share our commitment to protecting species. We call on ourselves to come together to achieve our most far-reaching goals, year after year.

We hope an exciting rhino sighting at the Safari Park will remind you of our work using biobanked cell lines to save the northern white rhino. When you experience a polar bear at the Zoo, we hope you’ll walk away knowing about the research we’ve done for the benefit of polar bears in the Arctic. We hope the antics of one of our baby elephants will inspire you to learn more about how we support community conservation by helping to formulate milk for orphans at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya. Indeed, we are in the business of hope, and we hope you’ll join us in our mission.

At San Diego Zoo Global, our expertise in caring for wildlife makes us incredibly unique in the field of conservation. Our deep and extensive knowledge from more than a century of experience makes us invaluable in the global effort to save species. Our science-based approach leverages the diverse skills of our teams and partners, showcasing the limitless potential of how we can change outcomes for wildlife in their native habitats. And it all starts with the wildlife care we support right here at home.

As we turn the page and embrace all the potential that 2021 represents, we remain more committed to our mission than ever before—a mission filled with and empowered by hope. Hope for the world. Hope for wildlife. And, hope for our global community.

We each have a role to play in protecting wildlife. And, we each have the potential to make a difference.

Thank you for continuing to support San Diego Zoo Global. Our future, and the future of wildlife, depends on you.  

Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy New Year.

Onward,

Paul Baribault
President and CEO
San Diego Zoo Global

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