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Circle of Life Society Annual Donor Recognition Event

  • A group of people touring a genomics lab

On June 8, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute hosted 27 Circle of Life Society donors for an exclusive donor recognition event at the Zoo’s Research Hill—home to the Center for Conservation Genomics, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Department of Wildlife Health Sciences. Throughout the evening, donors had the opportunity to tour all three of these facilities, usually off-limits to the public.

Senior Scientist and Head of the Center for Conservation Genomics Robert Fleischer, geneticist Jesus Maldonado and lab manager Nancy McInerney led a tour of the genomics lab, where scientists work to understand and conserve biodiversity by studying DNA. Donors were then greeted by some of the center’s postdoctorate fellows who gave an overview of their ongoing projects here at the Zoo and at locations around the country, including Hawaii.

Next, donors visited the Department of Wildlife Heath Sciences, which provides clinical veterinary care to the animals in our collection, researches novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for wildlife species, provides leadership in conservation medicine and trains future zoo and wildlife veterinarians. Chief Veterinarian Dr. Don Neiffer led the evening’s tour, during which he described the Zoo’s veterinary care program as donors explored animal surgical and examination rooms.

A presentation on the critical work of the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center to conserve bird species and understand the full life cycle of migratory birds was presented by ornithologist Brandt Ryder, a research scientist here. He focused on the remarkable migration of the black-polled warbler, a species that flies nonstop from the northeast coast of the U.S. to South America.

The special event concluded with a lovely reception on a scenic outdoor deck of Research Hill overlooking Rock Creek Park.

“Thank you very much for the wonderful program last night.  It was really terrific. The opportunity to listen to those amazing scientists is just a ‘wow!’” – Barbara Perry, Circle of Life Society Donor

Circle of Life Society donors play an important role in supporting the future of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s programs. These donors have chosen to extend their generosity via planned giving. We greatly appreciate their support of the Zoo’s commitment to conserve endangered species, educate and inspire over 2.5 million annual visitors, provide world class animal care and train future conservationists.

Interested in making a planned gift? Please contact us.