Lincoln Park Zoo honored for Serengeti program

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Female lions

Female lions gather in the sun inside Serengeti National Park in the Northern part of Tanzania. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune / November 30, 2012)

For its work vaccinating dogs against rabies around the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the Lincoln Park Zoo has won a top national honor from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo announced Tuesday.

The zoo's Serengeti Health Initiative, which the Tribune wrote about at length last December, won Top Honors in International Conversation from the AZA, the leading organization of North American zoological facilities.

The long-running effort has zoo staff on the ground in Tanzania, vaccinating domestic dogs and doing research on dogs and on wild animals found dead. The program has helped keep rabies, still deadly when not treated, out of animal and human populations in the vicinity of the popular wildlife preserve.

It has delivered more than 1 million doses of vaccine since 2003, and the zoo estimates that as many as 150 human lives per year are saved by keeping rabies out of local dog populations.

“The Lincoln Park Zoo is a proven leader in international wildlife conservation,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “While all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums make conservation a top priority, this award brings well-deserved recognition to Lincoln Park Zoo for making a positive impact on the community and wildlife living in, and near, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.”

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