INDIANAPOLIS – Football is a sport of many things, one being jargon associated with the game.
Offenses have been known to use 'Jumbo' packages near the goal-line. During the Super Bowl week, another local initiative produced jumbo results.
That is because an elephant conservation project in Africa will receive more than $90,000 from a special parking fundraiser at the Indianapolis Zoo. The zoo, just one mile from Lucas Oil Stadium, was a convenient Super Bowl parking location for local residents as well as out-of-town visitors.
In a novel approach to conservation fundraising, the Zoo charged $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers for parking in the days leading up to the big game, and a flat fee of $50 on Super Bowl Sunday. The fundraiser netted $90,722 to support the Tarangire Elephant Project (TEP) in Tanzania, Africa, and will help save the lives of threatened African elephants.
The TEP operates in Tarangire National Park in northeast Tanzania along the east coast of Africa, and has been committed to the conservation of the African elephant for the past 20 years. The Indianapolis Zoo has been a significant supporter of the project since 2006.
"The Indianapolis Zoo's announcement is indeed wonderful news," Dr. Charles Foley, the founder and director of the Tarangire Elephant Project, wrote in an email from Tanzania. "This amazingly generous gift from the Zoo and the fans of the Super Bowl was totally unexpected but will make it possible to immediately start an important new elephant radio collaring project to further protect elephants in Tanzania. The collars send signals that allow researchers to track elephants as they follow often-risky migration corridors in and out of the park. This project is crucial to linking the elephant populations in eastern Tanzania with those in the west, helping reduce poaching and conflict situations between elephants and humans. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this important conservation project a reality."
"There is a short window to be able to ensure the long-term viability of these animals by protecting major travel corridors in and out of the Park," said Paul Grayson, the Indianapolis Zoo's deputy director and senior vice president of conservation and science. "It is possible for one committed and passionate individual to make a difference in wildlife conservation. Charles Foley is a conservation hero and we are honored to work with him and the people of Tanzania to protect elephants in the wild."
Tanzania is home to the second largest population of elephants on the African continent and is an important refuge for animals from poachers. Traditional migration routes used by the Park's animals have been disrupted in recent years by human settlement and agriculture. The TEP works to stop human encroachment into the last remaining open migration corridors while providing local inhabitants with economic incentives.
"Helping ensure a future for African elephants in their increasingly-complex environment through a unique fundraiser like this is another example of how Indianapolis' Super Bowl legacy goes far
beyond what most people are aware of," said Mike Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. "We're a community that touches the world in many ways, and that helps us in our mission to advance animal conversation both locally and globally."
Jon Glesing of the Indianapolis Zoo contributed to this story.