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Thousands of villagers turn out for Earth Day celebration

Photos and emails are trickling in from WPZ staffers who are currently up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, celebrating what may be one of the most inspiring Earth Day stories this year.

On Earth Day yesterday, thousands of Papua New Guinea villagers gathered in the Teptep village on the Huon Peninsula to hold a traditional Sing Sing, or celebratory gathering, to honor the creation of their nation’s first national Conservation Area. The new YUS Conservation Area—187,000 acres of tropical forest made up of land donated by 35 local communities—will be protected forever from hunting, logging and development.

Joining them at the Sing Sing were Woodland Park Zoo Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program staff, representatives from Conservation International, and dignitaries of Papua New Guinea including the Acting Prime Minister—as it is the 12-year culmination of our work together with the villagers of PNG that has brought about this conservation milestone.

Lisa Dabek, TKCP Director and WPZ Field Conservation Director, reported back that among all the festivities, the highlight for her was seeing the schoolchildren from one village write a song and perform a dance celebrating Woodland Park Zoo and the work of all the partners to protect their forests! As a local saying goes, “No forests, no life.”

Woodland Park Zoo is honored to be part of a great Earth Day for everyone.

Photos provided by Ryan Hawk (Woodland Park Zoo) and Bruce Beehler (Conservation International).