Last week we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Week. What I failed to mention was that on Sunday, April 26th, we marked the 125th Anniversary of the establishment of WCS. (Candidly I did that because I wanted to send a separate e-mail this week on our celebration!)
Our original charter and mandate had three goals: to create a world-class zoo; to advance wildlife conservation; and to promote the study of zoology. These three pillars continue to be at the core of our mission, as noted in our WCS 2020 strategy, to discover, protect, and inspire. Please visit the WCS website to learn more about our history and watch this new WCS historical short documentary HERE. You can also find great historical images and documents on the website for the Library and Archives HERE.
As much as we can be justifiably proud of the contributions we have made over the past 125 years, this quote from the first annual report of the society in March 1897, seems just as relevant today:
“It has taken nature millions of years to produce the beautiful and wonderful varieties of animals which we are so rapidly exterminating. Unless we can create a sentiment which will check this slaughter, and devise laws for those that do not respect sentiment, the bones of our now common types will be as rare as those of the dodo and the great auk…Let us hope this destruction can be checked by the spread of an intelligent love of nature and its products.”
As we live through the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is humbling and reassuring to remember that WCS has continued its work through World War I, the 1918 pandemic, The Great Depression, World War II, 9/11, and political conflicts and upheavals around the world. I am a firm believer that we can come out of this crisis stronger than before. The arc of our own history tells us that we can overcome challenges when we work together.
PS: most of you know I have a love for bison and WCS’ work to save this species from extinction. Couldn’t resist sharing this photo from the archives…