The Los Angeles Zoo Thursday announced the arrival of Jake Owens, who has spent the past five years in China working to save giant pandas from extinction, as the zoo’s first-ever director of conservation.
“For over a decade, Dr. Owens has assisted in advancing the study of conservation on a wide range of animal species across the globe,” said Zoo Director Denise Verret. “It is our hope that in this new position, he will lead the charge in our strategic conservation efforts, which will further our commitment to wildlife.”
“The Los Angeles Zoo has a deep history of conserving biodiversity,” Owens said. “Not only has the L.A. Zoo been instrumental in bringing California condors back from the brink of extinction, it has also been integral to conservation efforts of programs across the globe. I am proud to be the L.A. Zoo’s director of conservation and immensely excited to work with my new colleagues and members of the L.A. community to substantially increase our positive impact on the world.”
The newly created position was supported by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, which raised the needed funding to hire Owens, who will coordinate the zoo’s conservation programs, serve as its liaison to wildlife organizations, develop new conservation partnerships and alliances and assist in community engagement projects in an effort to save animals from extinction.
Owens said he’s coming aboard amid “development of a sweeping new vision plan for the zoo that emphasizes animal welfare and conservation. We are positioned to evolve into a premiere institution for global biodiversity conservation, and, with the support of this great city, I am confident that we will.”
Owens managed the research and development of the Giant Panda Reintroduction Program at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. In 2018, his work in China was spotlighted in the IMAX film, “Pandas,” narrated by actress and animal activist Kristen Bell. The film follows a group of scientists in Southwestern China who introduce a giant panda named Qian Qian (Chen-Chen), a cub born in captivity, into a groundbreaking reintroduction program.
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