Dr. Don Moore, left, with Dr. Steven Amstrup, right, in a Tundra Buggy.

Dr. Don Moore, left, former director of the Oregon Zoo, with Dr. Steven Amstrup, chief scientist with Polar Bears International, in a Tundra Buggy near Churchill, Canada. Don took part in our first Tundra Connections webcast, engaging with students in Australia.

© Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposures.com

11/23/2020 5:08:14 PM

A Tribute to Dr. Don Moore

By Barbara Nielsen, Director of Communications

Polar Bears International owes a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Don Moore, who recently retired from his position as director of the Oregon Zoo after a 45-year career working with zoos and conservation.

“Don’s passion for the natural world helped build strong bridges between zoo professionals and wildlife biologists and conservationists,” said Krista Wright, executive director of Polar Bears International. “Early in his career, he understood the role that zoos play in inspiring people to care about conservation.”

Don's history with Polar Bears International dates back to 2003, when we organized a “getting to know each other” workshop that brought together wild bear researchers and zoo professionals for the first time. Held on a Tundra Buggy during the annual migration of polar bears to Churchill, Canada, the retreat set the stage for ongoing collaborative projects that benefit both wild and zoo bears.

“Don is really talented at motivating people and bringing them together to focus on solutions,” said Robert and Carolyn Buchanan, co-founders of Polar Bears International, who organized the workshop. “Not only did he help facilitate research projects with polar bears in zoos that would be impossible to conduct with bears in the wild, but he served as a key advisor as we developed our network of Arctic Ambassador Center zoos and aquariums.”

These centers, which are based in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, help educate the public about climate change and its impacts on polar bears and other wildlife. They also provide climate leadership within their own communities and support polar bear conservation efforts.

Later, Don was instrumental in motivating the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to take a stand on climate change and to include climate change messaging in their outreach.

“Don’s role in making that happen was huge and continues to have an impact,” said Marissa Krouse, programs manager for Polar Bears International.

Don also provided critical support to our educational efforts, taking part in our very first Tundra Connections broadcast fifteen years ago. The program has since grown to attract hundreds of thousands of viewers each year, with partners including Discovery Education and Microsoft Education.

Prior to joining the Oregon Zoo staff in 2016, Don was associate director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Before that, he worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, where he was the director of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Zoo and co-chair of the society’s Animal Enrichment Program.

We wish him all the best in this new chapter of his life and are grateful for his wisdom, guidance, and support over the years.

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