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SOS Rhino : In the News: : Articles : Lincoln Park Zoo Chapter of AAZK holds 13th Annual Bowling for Rhinos Fundraiser
  The following article was written by Mike Skidmore, Animal Keeper at Lincoln Park Zoo (LPZ), located in Chicago, Illinois. In 1987 Mike started volunteering at Lincoln Park Zoo as a docent. In 1994 he secured a position as an animal keeper in LPZís Childrenís Zoo. There he worked for three years in the nursery where he helped raise two injured orangutans and a gorilla. Throughout his career at LPZ, Mike has worked with a variety of species including primates, small mammals, reptiles, elephants, and RHINOS.

Mike held the position of President of the Lincoln Park Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK) in 1998 and 1999 and the position of Treasurer, 1997-2001. In addition to his position at Lincoln Park Zoo, Mike is working toward an anthropology degree at Northeastern University.


Lincoln Park Zoo Chapter of AAZK holds 13th Annual Bowling for Rhinos Fundraiser

 

Mike Skidmore
Animal Keeper
Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL


The Lincoln Park Zoo (LPZ) chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK) recently held their 13th annual Bowling for Rhinos (BFR) event, raising approximately $3500. Over 40 chapters of AAZK hold a BFR event each year and to date AAZK has raised over 1.7 million dollars for rhino conservation worldwide, with the LPZ chapter raising over $110,000 of that total. SOS Rhino has been a big help the last few years, donating raffle items and bringing bowlers.

The main benefactor of BFR is the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy located in Isiolo, Kenya. I have been lucky enough to be involved in BFR from the first year in 1990, first as a docent at the zoo and later as a keeper and an AAZK officer. The first year in 1990 we had filled an entire 40 lane bowling alley and even had to turn people away, but keeping a fund-raiser going for 13 years is tough. LPZ has been the top fund-raiser in the country many times and 5 times had the highest individual total raised from a bowler which won them a free trip to Lewa. BFR became so successful that support was expanded in 1994 to include the Ujong Kulon National Park in Java to help protect the few Javan rhinos left in the world. In 1997 we again expanded the program to include Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra to protect the Sumatran rhino. The numbers for these small Asian rhinos is appallingly low, with only at most 100 Javan and less than 400 Sumatran rhino left in the world .

Lewa was a unique place when it first started operating in that it combined community and privately owned lands in an attempt to protect the wildlife and include the local people. Started in 1983 as the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary by Anna Merz and the Craig Family, it was originally around 5000 acres. A recent plan, if it succeeds will remove fencing between two properties in the area allowing free movement of wildlife. It would be the largest private and community owned used for conservation, making up over 300,000 acres. The Conservancy protects not only white and black rhinos, but also elephants, giraffes, zebras (including over 25% of the worldĖs population of the endangered GrevyĖs zebra), wild dogs and numerous other hoofstock species. Many species have become numerous enough to allow translocation to other parks. White and black rhino numbers have steadily increased, at the moment there are around 33 of each. Local people benefit from the employment opportunities and the Conservancy supports many local schools. Lewa hopes to develop itĖs tourism to the extent that it can become self-sufficient. The Kenyan Wildlife Service has been a big help and has also been very impressed with the success they have had and used some of their techniques in other areas.

Although I have never raised enough money to win a trip to Lewa, I will be going there this December to see what the 13 years of our efforts have helped to create. I will write a follow-up article on my visit there for SOS Rhino's newsletter. For more information on Lewa check out their website at www.lewa.org and for more information on BFR, please email me at zookeeper615@hotmail.com.

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