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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium awards conservationist with a $50,000 grant
Rick Hudson is the honored recipient of the 2021 Commitment to Conservation Award and grant due to his commitment to helping endangered species including turtles, tortoises, and iguanas.
Last month, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium declared conservationist Rick Hudson as the recipient of the 2021 Commitment to Conservation Award due to his ongoing dedication to working with the conservation community and helping endangered turtles, tortoises and iguanas. As the esteemed winner of this prestigious award, Hudson was also gifted with a $50,000 grant to support his continuing work and efforts.
“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award, which will go a long way in continuing to make a positive difference for these species that are so deserving of our help. The Columbus Zoo has stood behind me for over 20 years, and with their help and support, we have faced some pretty serious wildlife crises together,” Hudson expressed in an organizational release.
“It has been an incredible conservation partnership, and our long-term collaboration and shared commitment to assuring that these species are around for generations to come makes this award just that much more special,” he continued.
Hudson is a leading herpetology expert and the founder and executive director for the International Iguana Foundation, an organization that seeks to help ensure the survival of iguana species through conservation initiatives and critical recovery. Hudson also played a crucial role in creating Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) in 2001. According to the release, the TSA was created in response to the rampant and unsustainable harvest of the Asian turtle population to supply markets. Currently, the TSA is observed as a global force for turtle conservation with Hudson serving as the president of its board of directors. Along with these roles, Hudson has worked for the last 41 years at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Since 1999, the zoo provided Hudson with 49 grants, awarded him annual donations, and other grants for specific projects such as emergency funds. According to the zoo, the species that benefitted from these grants endure unnerving conservation challenges primarily due to the illegal wildlife trade (ie, commercial pet markets food or traditional medicine), habitat loss, predation by invasive species, and other critical threats.
In addition, these grants help in tackling a different kind of conservation challenge: Limitations on the capacity for protection (ie, managing rescue facilities, control of poaching, effective conservation strategies, etc.) in a few of the species' native ranges, according to the release. Over the years, Hudson has worked in 18 countries and throughout the Caribbean to effectively address these issues.
“Whether he was working on the recovery of the endangered Jamaican iguana population through headstart and reintroduction programs, helping to rescue radiated tortoises from a massive confiscation in Madagascar, or establishing assurance populations of imperiled species in range countries, Rick’s work has made a profound conservation impact. Rick embodies the drive, heart, and spirit of collaboration that aligns with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s values as a global leader in wildlife conservation,” Tom Schmid, president, and chief executive officer of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, reminisced in the release.
"Those traits, along with the tremendous example he sets for future conservationists, is why we are proud to recognize Rick with the Columbus Zoo’s 2021 Commitment to Conservation Award,” he continued.
Hudson will receive the grant this month and a formal presentation and acceptance will take place at the Columbus Zoos’ Wine for Wildlife, its conservation fundraiser event, on May 14, 2022.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Honors Conservationist Rick Hudson With Prestigious Award and $50K Grant. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. December 7, 2022. Accessed January 5, 2022. https://www.columbuszoo.org/home/about/press-releases/press-release-articles/2021/12/07/columbus-zoo-and-aquarium-honors-conservationist-rick-hudson-with-prestigious-award-and-$50k-grant