By Carla Knapp
Indianapolis Zoo Public Relations Specialist
Two years — that’s 24 months, or 104 weeks, or 730 days, or 17,520 hours …
In other words, it’s a long time to wait for something.
The Indianapolis Prize, the world’s top award for animal conservation, is handed out once every two years. The recipient is presented with the Lilly Medal along with $250,000 at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc., that’s held every other September. The remaining five finalists for the award, each of whom receives $10,000, are also recognized during this extravagant celebration that lasts about three hours out of every 17,520.
That pinnacle moment when the winner takes hold of the Prize, that’s what everyone looks forward to. But the Indianapolis Prize is more than just a biennial event.
So what happens in the hours, days, weeks and months in between?
While the Indianapolis Prize is awarded just once every two years, the 24-month cycle is filled with milestones and activities, many of which happen behind the scenes.
Just yesterday, the names of the 39 nominees for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize were announced. These are exceptional individuals who have dedicated their lives to protecting many of the world’s most endangered animals. The highlights of their work were outlined on nomination applications that were collected and vetted over the course of several months.
Soon, an international Nominating Committee composed of renowned professional conservationists and local representatives will begin reviewing all the nominations — a challenging task to say the least.
“The current nominees are exceptional and they represent many of the most significant wildlife conservationists working in the field today,” said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, which initiated the Indianapolis Prize as part of its core mission.
The nominees’ work spans the globe and represents a broad range of species including chimpanzees, snow leopards, sea turtles, giant pandas, bats, swans and many more. But the committee members have a deadline of spring 2014 to weigh the accomplishments of these 39 amazing conservationists and decide on six finalists.
The Prize Jury will take it from there, with just a few very short months to select the winner. But in that same time, video profiles will be developed featuring each conservationist at work. That’s also the time when event-planning details are being finalized for the Gala.
Even after the Gala, the winner and remaining finalists will take part in media tours and outreach activities around Indianapolis and elsewhere around the country.
Of course, from the time the nominees are announced to the day we come together in celebration at the Gala, these scientists will continue to be just that, working to preserve the world’s wildlife for future generations. Stay up-to-date on the work of each of the 39 nominees through regular features on the Indianapolis Prize’s Facebook page.
These outstanding individuals continue to work because the need for animal conservation exists around the world 365 days a year.
“We encourage people around the world to celebrate the nominees’ important work and to join them in advancing animal conservation,” said Crowther.
Pictured (top to bottom): The Lilly Medal, Russel Mittermeier, Denver Holt, Jane Goodall.