Organizations That I Endorse as Effective in Conservation of and Saving Wild Animals
The organizations I have listed below are those with which I have dealt extensively and in which I have complete confidence. That is not to say that there are not a great many more worthy organizations in the animal welfare field; just that I don't have enough knowledge about them to put my name on an endorsement. With that caveat, here are the organizations I support without reservation:
First and foremost among organizations with which I'm familiar that improve the lives of animals is International Exotic Feline Sanctuary. (http://www.bigcat.org/) I know this organization intimately, having been associated with it for six years and volunteering my services as resident Animal Behaviorist for that period. I spend three days a week at the Sanctuary, rehabilitating exotic cats that were previously abused, abandoned, or confiscated. The Sanctuary has 68 cats. It stays completely true to its mission of giving the best quality of life possible in captivity to its resident felines. I can also vouch for the fact that all the money donated is scrupulously accounted for and spent on the purpose for which it is donated. A lot of nonprofit organizations can't honestly make that statement. It has also been accepted as a member of the American Zoological and Aquarium Association (AZA), the only Sanctuary to be accorded that honor. I suggest that anyone interested in helping wild animals, and specifically exotic cats, at least take a look at the Sanctuary's website, and visit the facility if at all possible. Most of the very large habitats would be a beautiful exhibit at a large prominent zoo, except that the Sanctuary gives the cats even more space than almost any zoo. Almost all the tiger habitats, for instance, have swimming pools and running rivers, with perches at various levels and privacy areas where the cats can find privacy. I know of no other place where one can get as much satisfaction from seeing one's funds going directly to the improvement of worthy beings' lives.
An organization that I wholeheartedly support is the Humane Society of the United States. (http://www.humanesociety.org) I believe they are at the forefront of many very important animal issues of interest to the majority of the population. Some of their leading issues are: animal cruelty and fighting, farm animal protection, puppy mills, wildlife abuses, a fur-free society, and better conditions for captive chimps. In addition, their CEO, Wayne Pacelle, has become a good friend and someone that I find to be sincerely dedicated to the issues of the organization, very pragmatic, very intelligent, and an articulate advocate for important animal issues.
A fine organization that has an orphanage for rescued chimps in Cameroon is IDA-Africa (www.ida-africa.org) . The staff is extremely dedicated to their orphaned chimps and gives them the best care possible. The money donated to this cause appears to be utilized for the care of the chimps almost exclusively with minimum staff and fund-raising costs compared to other charities.
Another fine organization is the Defenders of Wildlife. (http://www.defenders.org/) The Defenders is perhaps best known for their instrumental work in getting wolves reintroduced to many areas of the northwestern United States. They have been creative in setting aside funds to reimburse ranchers for any livestock proven to have been killed by wolves. This has been a very successful program in muting opposition to the wolves' reintroduction. Their stated mission is dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities. They concentrate on the accelerating rate of extinction of species and the associated loss of biological diversity, and habitat alteration and destruction. They do an excellent job of marshalling support and legislative assistance for issues that are vital for survival of wild animals-particularly wolves-and native habitat.
Another fine organization is the African Wildlife Foundation. (http://www.awf.org/) Their stated mission is recognizing that the wildlife and wild lands of Africa have no equal. They work with people-their supporters worldwide and our partners in Africa-to craft and deliver creative solutions for the long-term well-being of Africa's remarkable species, their habitats and the people who depend upon them. The African Wildlife Foundation, together with the people of Africa, works to ensure the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever. The African Wildlife Foundation does vital work in many fields, but they are best known for their leadership roles in the survival of the mountain gorillas and the herds of African elephants that face constant danger, as well as African rhinos.
The next organization I would recommend is the International Wolf Center. (http://www.wolf.org/) The wolf center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild land, and the human role in their future. They have educational programs and maintain a pack of captive wolves that enables the public to more closely identify with wolves and gain a better understanding of their true nature.
Another fine organization is the World Wildlife Fund. (http://www.worldwildlife.org/) World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is dedicated to protecting the world's wildlife and wildlands. The largest privately supported international conservation organization in the world, WWF has more than 1 million members in the U.S. alone. Since its inception in 1961, WWF has invested in over 13,100 projects in 157 countries. WWF directs its conservation efforts toward three global goals: protecting endangered spaces, saving endangered species and addressing global threats. From working to save the giant panda, tiger, and rhino to helping establish and manage parks and reserves worldwide, WWF has been a conservation leader for 40 years. This is very well-run organization with world-wide influence. The main negative I have found is that not enough of their funds seem to find their way to the grass-roots field projects where they are needed; a lot of funds are dissipated in fund-raising and organizational costs.