This year’s Green Fest takes great pride in honoring Stony Brook University’s Patricia Wright as a distinguished professor of Anthropology and the winner of the Indianapolis Prize. This prize is awarded by the Indianapolis Zoo to individuals for their “extraordinary contributions to conservation efforts” affecting one or more animal species. It is frequently referred to as the world’s leading award for animal conservation by members of the professional wildlife conservation community.
Her contribution is her research and conservation efforts in Madagascar for the protection of lemurs. She with narrator Morgan Freeman helped produce the IMAX movie called ‘Island of Lemurs: Madagascar’Wright’s approach to conservation includes an effort to ensure a mutual benefit for humans and wildlife. “In order to work, conservation needs to be a win-win situation,” she said. “If not, you can stop the poaching, but without a sustainable agreement in place, the problems will just return later.” She added that the agreement has to carry a “stick,” so that conservation encroachments are not allowed in the community or the park.
She advises parents to get their children involved in conservation when they are young. “They should learn about nature and be in nature as much as possible,” she said. “They should visit zoos as often as possible to see the living animals.”
Over the course of her career, which has included discovering a new species of lemur, the golden bamboo lemur, she has made many connections.
“When I look into the eyes of lemurs, I feel a kinship, a friendship and I feel joy and a proudness that I have helped save the forests where these animals live,” she said. Protecting animals from extinction “gives me a great pride and purpose.”