2021 Indianapolis Prize Gala Celebrates World-Renowned Animal Conservationists

Prize Program Celebrates Expansion with New Emerging Conservationists Award

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Indianapolis Prize – the world’s leading award for animal conservation –celebrated the world’s preeminent animal conservationists at the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc.

Dr. Amanda Vincent, the 2021 recipient and eighth Winner of the Prize, which is awarded biennially by the Indianapolis Zoological Society, received a $250,000 grant – the largest unrestricted monetary award given for the successful conservation of endangered or threatened species. Ocean conservationist and the Sovereign Prince of Monaco His Serene Highness Prince Albert II received the 2021 Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award.

“On this night, we celebrate the victories of the world’s leading conservationists whose work to save species has an undeniable impact for our planet’s wild things and wild places,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, President & CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. “It is an honor to recognize these heroes and hope their stories will inspire action to protect our planet and all who inhabit it.”

Dr. Vincent is a professor at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at The University of British Columbia, where she directs Project Seahorse. Vincent is credited as being the first biologist to study seahorses in the wild, document their extensive trade and establish a project for seahorse conservation.   

Vincent has dedicated her career to advocating for seahorses and is credited with bringing the world’s attention to the 44 known species of seahorses and developing an effective approach for their conservation. With a relentless dedication to conservation, Vincent generated 35 marine protected areas – dedicated areas of the ocean where fishing is not permitted – where the populations of seahorses and other marine life are thriving.

“It is a great honor to be named the 2021 Indianapolis Prize Winner. This prestigious global award allows me to advocate for vastly more attention to the ocean – which accounts for 99 percent of the living space on Earth – and all the species on which the marine ecosystem depends. Through the perspective of seahorses, we have inspired many, many people globally to safeguard ocean life. The Indianapolis Prize now gives us an even bigger platform to invite and empower people to take meaningful conservation action.”

Vincent was selected from a group of six Finalists by a Jury comprised of distinguished scientists and conservation leaders. The Finalists are: Dr. Christophe Boesch (Wild Chimpanzee Foundation); Dr. P. Dee Boersma (University of Washington and Center for Ecosystem Sentinels); Dr. Sylvia Earle (Mission Blue and Deep Ocean Exploration and Research); Dr. Gerardo Ceballos (Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico); and Dr. John Robinson (Wildlife Conservation Society). Each Finalist received $10,000.

At the Gala, HSH Prince Albert II was honored with the Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award for his dedication to preserving the world’s oceans. Accepting the award on His Serene Highness’ behalf was the president of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, John B. Kelly II.

“I am extremely honored to be receiving such an important award, a truly significant one in the field of animal conservation,” said HSH Prince Albert II. “Please allow me to take this award as an additional encouragement to pursue my action and stick to my convictions. It will help me keep on my commitments and my contributions to the preservation of the oceans, the conservation of coral reefs and marine protected areas, and strive to protect endangered marine species.”

An exciting new initiative of the Indianapolis Prize program was also announced during the evenings program. The Emerging Conservationist Award – made possible through a grant from the Sidekick Foundation – is a biennial award recognizing conservationists under 40 years of age who are beginning to make significant strides in saving an animal species or group of species. Nominations for this award will be accepted on Sept. 27, 2021 through Feb. 25, 2022. The inaugural Emerging Conservationist Award will be presented at the 2023 Indianapolis Prize Gala in downtown Indianapolis. To learn more about this exciting new award visit IndianapolisPrize.org/emergingconservationist.

The Indianapolis Prize Gala was hosted by NBC News’ chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson and ocean activist and science communicator, Danni Washington. The Gala puts an international spotlight on the conservation heroes who share their stories and inspire audience members to Take a Step for species survival.  

A History of Indianapolis Prize Winners

The Indianapolis Prize was first awarded in 2006 to Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation. The 2008 Winner was George Schaller, Ph.D., known as one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation, and both a senior conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society and vice president for Panthera. In 2010, Iain Douglas Hamilton, Ph.D., founder of Save the Elephants, received the Prize for his pioneering research in elephant social behavior and for leading the way in the fight against the poaching of African elephants. Steven Amstrup, Ph.D., chief scientist for Polar Bears International, received the 2012 Prize for his work on the world’s largest land carnivore. In 2014, Dr. Patricia C. Wright, founder of Centre ValBio, became the first woman awarded the Indianapolis Prize for her dedication to saving Madagascar’s famed lemurs from extinction. Dr. Carl Jones received the 2016 Indianapolis Prize for his species recovery success on the island of Mauritius, including the echo parakeet, pink pigeon and Mauritius kestrel. Russ Mittermeier, Ph.D., Chief Conservation Officer of Re:wild earned the 2018 Prize for championing the concept of biodiversity hotspots and protecting the endemic species relying on those critical habitats. Dr. Amanda Vincent, co-founder of Project Seahorse and professor at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at The University of British Columbia became the first marine conservationist to win the Prize in 2021 for her work on seahorse ecology and conservation.


The Indianapolis Prize recognizes and rewards conservationists who have achieved major victories in advancing the sustainability of an animal species or group of species. Winners receive an unrestricted $250,000 award. Remaining Finalists each receive $10,000. Since 2006, the Indianapolis Prize has administered more than $1.3 million in unrestricted cash awards. The Indianapolis Prize is a signature conservation initiative of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc.


Photos and video from the VIP reception will be available via this link by 9 pm ET. Other images that accompany this story are available for download on the Indianapolis Prize website here. Connect with the Prize on Facebook and Twitter.


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