The 2006 Indianapolis Prize Winner
For information on the International Crane Foundation and the remarkable
work of George Archibald, click here.
honor of more than 30 years dedicated to saving endangered crane species, a
man who once danced with a female crane named Tex and brought a national
television audience to tears describing her fate, was awarded the inaugural
Indianapolis Prize. George Archibald, Ph.D., received the $100,000
Indianapolis Prize, an initiative of the Indianapolis Zoo. He received the
check and the accompanying Lilly Medal in Indianapolis on September 30,
2006, at a gala ceremony presented by the AES Corporation and hosted by
actress and environmentalist Jane Alexander. Photo, left to right,
Pawel Fludinski, Myrta Pulliam, George Archibald, Mike Crowther, Jane
Alexander. Photo by Banayote Photography.
announcement was made at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. in late
August 2006. In his remarks when introducing Archibald to the media,
Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO Michael I. Crowther said, "George is an
icon in animal conservation. With his revolutionary work and dedication to
the preservation of cranes, there is absolutely no question that the
population is stronger because he is their champion. He is a true hero and
we are honored that he is the first recipient of the Indianapolis Prize."
co-founded the International Crane Foundation, located in Baraboo,
Wisconsin, in 1973 when cranes were in a perilous situation and many of the
15 remaining species were on the brink of extinction. Today, several species
have made remarkable turnarounds, most notably the North American Whooping
Crane. Down to their last 10 to 15 birds in the 1940s, now the population
numbers in the hundreds.
"I am humbled by this honor and proud to be recognized among the world's
leading conservationists," said Archibald. "This award is a privilege not
only for me and the team I'm a part of, but the cranes we work to save. They
depend on us and look to us to be their voice. It's a great honor to have
that voice heard."
has pioneered several techniques to rear cranes in human care, including
having human handlers wear crane costumes to avoid human imprinting and
using ultra-light aircraft to lead cranes on migration. Archibald spent
three years with a highly endangered whooping crane named Tex, dressed as
and acting as a male crane, walking, calling, dancing to shift her into
reproductive condition. Through his dedication and the use of artificial
insemination, Tex eventually laid a fertile egg. As Archibald later
recounted her tale on "The Tonight Show", he stunned the audience and host
Johnny Carson with the sad end of the story - the accidental death of Tex
shortly after the hatching of her one and only chick.
Archibald is also known for having entered some of the world's most hostile
territories, including Afghanistan, Cuba, Russia and the Demilitarized Zone
(DMZ) between North and South Korea, to protect the watersheds and
grasslands where cranes live and to help increase migratory flight paths.
"Zoos throughout this country play a significant role in the worldwide
effort for animal conservation," said Jim Maddy, president and CEO of the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national member organization
that accredits U.S. zoos. "The Indianapolis Prize is an outstanding addition
to the cause of preserving the world's endangered animals, and it is a prime
example of a single zoo's ability to increase awareness of and spur action
toward conservation of the natural world."
An international nominating committee and jury of distinguished members of
the conservation community selected the six finalists from more than 50 of
the world's pre-eminent animal conservationist nominees to compete for the
Indianapolis Prize. The other finalists included Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton
(one of the world's foremost authorities on elephant conservation), Dr.
Holly Dublin (chair of the IUCN's largest and most important network of
scientists and researchers working to preserve endangered species), Dr.
David Mech (the world's leading authority on wolf conservation), Dr. Roger
Payne (a pioneer in the study of whale songs and father of the Save the
Whales movement) and Dr. Simon Stuart (champion in the preservation of
threatened species and senior advisor for the Biodiversity Assessment
addition to the unrestricted award of $100,000, the recipient receives the
Lilly Medal. The Lilly Medal design by Rik Tommosone resulted from a
competition among teachers and students at the Herron School of Art in
Indianapolis. The Medal itself is cast in bronze and was presented in a
handcrafted limestone display box carved by well known sculptor Dale Enochs.
2008 Indianapolis Prize Winner, Dr. George
Prize Winner, Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton
Lilly Medal © 2013, Indianapolis Zoological Society