HON. GUS M. BILIRAKIS
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize heroic efforts on behalf of wildlife worldwide. American Humane, the first and most experienced national humane organization, which was created in 1877 to ensure the safety, welfare, and well-being of animals, has awarded Prof. Theo Pagel, CEO of the Cologne Zoo in Germany with the 2023 Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation. This award was created in honor of Wolfgang F. Kiessling, the founder of Loro Parque and global leader in conservation.
Prof. Theo Pagel has dedicated his life to ensuring the survival of countless species, and inspiring and educating generations of people. As the CEO of the Cologne Zoo, the former president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Chair of the Reverse the Red Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Pagel has led significant change for animals both in the wild and in zoos. He was inspired at an early age by his father, also an animal lover, and started a breeding program in 1988 to save the endangered Bali Starling—a program he coordinated for nearly 20 years. Pagel created sustainability strategies and guidelines for conservation education during his tenure as president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He approaches conservation through inspiring the public as well as leading high-level strategies on saving countless species from the very largest Asian Elephant to the smallest Asian songbird. He has led a global charge to push back the effects of what scientists call a ‘‘Sixth Mass Extinction,’’ with up to one million species at risk of disappearing forever.
Mr. Speaker, wildlife conservationists put the world first, wildlife first, the future first. They don’t seek a hero’s reward, a medal, or a prize. But they surely deserve it. Mr. Speaker, I ask today that we recognize the impact Theo Pagel has had on saving species, honor his work and acknowledge American Humane’s Kiessling Prize as a way to shine a light on the important work of saving species for future generations to love.