Gorilla via Wikimedia Commons.
Gorilla via Wikimedia Commons.

The Los Angeles Zoo was awarded a 2016 Conservation Award for helping to create a habitat and care for endangered Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was announced Tuesday.

The zoo’s general curator, Beth Schaefer, has been traveling to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Center to lend her expertise on caring for the eastern lowland gorillas, provide medical training and set up a habitat for the animals.

Schaefer provided help on captive management techniques and creating a 25-acre forest habitat.

The Los Angeles Zoo is one of nine zoos that received a Conservation Award for work with the GRACE center. The annual award is given out by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Rehabilitating critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas is something that has never been done before,” said Sonya Kahlenberg, the facility’s executive director. “We depend heavily on zoos like the L.A. Zoo because they are the world’s experts in gorilla care.

“They work closely with our Congolese staff to give them the skills they need to care for orphan gorillas,” she said. “They regularly come out to our very difficult location and help us remotely year-round by serving on advisory groups. More than once, Beth Schaefer has been on the phone in the middle of the night to help our staff coax sick gorillas into taking their medicine!”

Schaefer was grateful for the recognition.

“To have our accrediting body recognize our hard work with the GRACE Center is a real honor,” she said, and “validates the work we do every single day as a zoo.”

–City News Service 

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