rose parade float
2022 Rose Parade

Dream, Believe, and Achieve

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Check Out San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance in the 133rd  Rose Parade®!

Click here to experience the majesty of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's float.

 

With the 133rd Rose Parade’s theme of “Dream, Believe, and Achieve,” San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance shared with the world how we work with global partners to save wildlife worldwide—presenting our first Rose Parade float since 1996. 

 

Our float, “Creating Wildlife Allies,” illustrates the interconnection between wildlife, people, and ecosystems. We know that a world where all life thrives is only possible when we work together: local communities, governments, conservation organizations, our global supporters, and wildlife explorers of all ages.

About Our Float: Creating Wildlife Allies

Lion, Rhino, and Condor

Our float features three species that are key to our history of achievement and our future as a force for conservation: the lion, rhinoceros, and California condor.

The lion represents the founding of the world-famous San Diego Zoo more than a century ago, as well as the future of our work with lions in the Savanna conservation hub.

The rhino represents the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the work that we are doing at our Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center to save the critically endangered northern white rhino—only two of which remain on our planet.

The condor highlights our groundbreaking work to save this icon of the Southwest, and our continuing efforts to protect other threatened birds such as the ’Alalā (Hawaiian crow) and the African penguin.

Waterfall and Globe

The float’s waterfall highlights the vital importance of water—essential to all life on Earth. The rotating globe demonstrates the depth and breadth of our Alliance’s commitment to worldwide conservation work through our eight global conservation hubs: Oceans, Asian Rainforest, African Forest, Savanna, Amazonia, Pacific Islands, Southwest, and Australian Forest.

Florals

The float’s amazing floral array illustrates that both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are accredited botanical gardens, caring for over two million plants and thousands of species, and that San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is dedicated to plant conservation through many efforts, including the Wildlife Biodiversity Bank.

Hello, World!

The song Hello World,” by Aloe Blacc, was broadcast from the float throughout the parade.

Float Riders

Our float riders help demonstrate our vital work, and the importance of partnership and education to its success.

Each rider represents one of our eight conservation hubs.

Savanna: Dr. Stephen Chege, SDZWA team member (Kenya)

Dr. Stephen Chege is a postdoctoral fellow in disease investigations at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. He manages a disease surveillance project in Northern Kenya working with the critically endangered Hirola antelope and other endangered species, such as the Grevy’s zebra. This work represents collaboration between San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and its partners in Kenya. Disease has been identified as a major threat to endangered wildlife species, and Stephen’s focus is to understand disease dynamics and epidemiology at the livestock-wildlife-human interface, with a view toward preventing disease and ensuring a healthy, viable wildlife population.

Prior to his current role, Stephen was a veterinarian at the Al Ain Zoo. He also previously served as a wildlife veterinarian in Northern Kenya, based at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where he was involved in wildlife translocations, injured animal treatments, disease outbreak investigations and disease surveillance. This included work on rinderpest (also known as “cattle plague”), leading to its eradication in its last foci in Africa.

Stephen earned his veterinary degree from the University of Nairobi, where he later pursued a master’s degree in veterinary epidemiology and economics. He has also undertaken an advanced diploma in business administration, as well as courses in disease management in species conservation programs and forensic veterinary science, among others. He is a member of the Kenya Veterinary Association, currently serves as vice president of the Wildlife Disease Association–Africa & Middle East, and is a Kenya Veterinary Board-registered veterinarian. 

 

Amazonia: Dr. José Luis Mena, SDZWA team member (Peru)

Dr. José Luis Mena is a scientific coordinator in population sustainability for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and is based in Lima, Peru. He is a biologist who helps lead SDZWA’s conservation programs in the Peruvian Amazon. José Luis oversees jaguar population monitoring and human-wildlife coexistence activities. In addition, he leads an innovative project with the goal of creating a molecular library of birds and mammals of the Peruvian Amazon, using museum specimens in order to use novel genomic tools to study Amazonian biodiversity. For this project, SDZWA is partnering with the Natural History Museum of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, which hosts the most important natural history collection of Peru.

José Luis has spent much of his career working for conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs), where he gained extensive experience in conservation practice and management. He is a lecturer in population ecology and community and ecosystem ecology at the Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Peru, where he frequently mentors both undergraduate and graduate students studying the ecology of Peruvian mammals.

José Luis earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Peru, a master’s degree at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, and his doctorate in biological sciences at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Peru. His doctoral dissertation focused on the functional diversity of mammals along an elevational gradient in the Peruvian tropical Andes, based on trail camera imaging and hierarchical modeling. He is particularly interested in promoting technology to improve wildlife monitoring. Some of his most recent research has focused on estimating the jaguar population in a transboundary landscape in the northern Amazon, the population ecology of endangered species such as mountain tapirs and mountain coatis, and the application of novel techniques such as acoustic monitoring and environmental DNA (eDNA) for biodiversity monitoring. José Luis enjoys photographing wildlife and sharing information through social media to promote people's involvement in wildlife conservation.

 

Oceans: Krista Wright, Executive Director, Polar Bears International

Krista Wright is executive director of Polar Bears International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving polar bears and the sea ice they depend on—one of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation partners in the Arctic.

Krista is a passionate conservationist who is deeply concerned about the effects of global warming on polar bears, the Arctic and the planet. She has worked with nonprofit organizations that focus on building environmental literacy and a conservation ethic for more than 20 years. Her expertise includes strategic planning, environmental education, and nonprofit management and development. She is a visionary thinker who is skilled at establishing partnerships with entities, including government agencies, other nonprofits, educational groups, universities, and the business sector. She has also volunteered as a consultant for a variety of nonprofit organizations, offering expertise in development and strategic planning.

She previously held positions with Montana Outdoor Science School, Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort, and Colorado Outdoor Education Center. Krista received her bachelor’s degree in outdoor education from Kansas University and later studied elementary education at Montana State University. She began volunteering with Polar Bears International (PBI) in 2008, and joined the staff as chief operating officer and executive vice president in 2009.

 

Southwest: Dr. Charlie de la Rosa, SDZWA team member

Dr. Carlos (Charlie) A. de la Rosa is natural lands manager at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. He oversees recovery and restoration efforts, biodiversity monitoring activities and research on the 800-acre Biodiversity Reserve adjacent to the Safari Park. His research background centers on human impacts on biological systems in Southern California and northwestern Mexico, especially through invasive and domestic species, and in applying ecological theory and methods to help solve conservation problems.

Situated in the San Pasqual Valley of northern San Diego County, the Biodiversity Reserve is home to 30 breeding pairs of cactus wrens, as well as red diamond rattlesnakes, Engelmann oaks, and many other unique and beautiful species of Southern California's coastal sage scrub. Charlie is responsible for assessing and managing invasive species, developing project partnerships, and coordinating research efforts in the reserve as part of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's efforts to save species in San Diego County and beyond.

Charlie earned his bachelor’s degrees in psychology and German at the University of Florida, and his doctorate in biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow and a University of California and Mexico (UC-MexUS) Dissertation Grant recipient. His dissertation focused on the effects of traditional cattle ranching on tropical dry forest tree diversity and abundance, and predictors of free-ranging cattle foraging preferences in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains of southeastern Sonora, Mexico. In his free time, Charlie can be found cooking, doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, or hiking, fishing, and exploring the diverse habitats of California and Mexico. 

 

Australian Forest: Jen Tobey, SDZWA team member

Jennifer Tobey is a researcher in population sustainability at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Her behavioral research focuses on mate choice, welfare and wildlife care at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Her longtime focus on behavioral data collection has branched out to include vocal communication utilizing audio recording and analysis, scent communication involving scent collection and analysis, and visitor effects and noise disturbance.

For many years, Jen’s work has examined maternal effort, food preferences, behavior, and mate choice in the San Diego Zoo’s colony of koalas. Her work at the San Diego Zoo has been applied to in-situ fieldwork efforts spanning different areas of the range of koalas in Australia. More recently, her work has expanded to primates, where her focus has been on visitor effects, welfare and social structure. She is also involved in a large-scale welfare project that includes all San Diego Zoo and Safari Park wildlife.

Jen earned a joint bachelor’s degree in biology/psychology from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and received her master’s degree in psychology from California State University, San Marcos, with a focus on comparative psychology. She is an active member of the San Diego Zoo Animal Welfare Panel and is involved with the Koala Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. When she is not at work, Jen enjoys creating native habitat space at her home for monarch butterflies, opossums, bluebirds, and other local Southern California wildlife.

 

Asian Rainforest: Dr. Elizabeth Davis, SDZWA team member

Dr. Elizabeth Davis is a postdoctoral associate in community engagement at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. In this role, she teaches students in the field, designs surveys for broad social science studies, conducts investigative anthropological studies, performs data analysis, and writes reports and scientific articles. She educates students in the AIP Masters Program about data analysis and has taught the statistical language “R” to these students, as well as postgraduate students at partner institutions in Southeast Asia.

Working with many partners, including Trường đại học Vinh (Vinh University, Vietnam), Free the Bears, Istituto Oikos and Oxford University, Elizabeth studies wildlife trade and consumption in Southeast Asia. Her major aim is to halt the decline of bears throughout Asia that is primarily caused by the unsustainable demand for bear bile for medicinal purposes. As part of this project, she has interviewed women in Cambodia about their use of bear bile to treat pregnancy-related illnesses and has led a countrywide initiative in Vietnam to understand consumers of bear bile for medicine. She has also given recommendations for better biosecurity around wildlife consumption (believed to be the source of COVID-19), researched tiger bone glue consumption in Vietnam and general wild animal medicine consumption in Myanmar and Laos. For every project she works on, her aim is to compassionately understand the individuals involved, and work thoughtfully and carefully toward effective demand reduction.

Elizabeth earned her bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her doctorate in anthropology at the University of Bristol in England. She has a passion for statistics and the application of statistical techniques to understanding individual and societal variation. She is a firm believer in the efficacy of mixed-methods approaches, cross-discipline collaboration and empathy in conservation. She is an avid runner, cyclist, reader, video gamer and bread baker.

 

Pacific Islands: Dr. Hanna Mounce, Coordinator, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project

Dr. Hanna Mounce is coordinator of the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, one of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation partners in Hawaii.

Hanna developed a passion for island ecosystems while completing her undergraduate degree at Humboldt State University in California and Lincoln University in New Zealand.

With experience as a biologist and master bander, Hanna has worked in public and private sectors of avian conservation across the United States and Costa Rica. This prepared her to leave Northern California and join the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project as a field technician in 2006. Since then, she has worked in a variety of capacities for the project, which develops and implements techniques to recover Maui’s endangered birds and restore their habitat through research, development, and application of conservation techniques.

Hanna completed her doctorate at the University of Kent, in the United Kingdom.

 

Africa Forest: Dr. Ekwoge Abwe, SDZWA team member (Cameroon)

Dr. Ekwoge Abwe is a postdoctoral fellow in population sustainability at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and is manager of the Central Africa Program’s Ebo Forest Research Project. His postdoctoral research focuses on niche separation in primate species in the Ebo Forest (rainforest) and Mbam & Djerem National Park (forest-woodland-savanna mosaic), Cameroon. In addition, Ekwoge fosters national and regional conservation efforts for endangered primates, as well as pangolins. His major role as program manager is to coordinate research activities in the Ebo Forest, and to guide conservation education and outreach in surrounding communities.

Ekwoge earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Yaoundé 1 in Cameroon. He then taught secondary school students before starting a conservation career with World Wildlife Fund Cameroon as a geographical information systems specialist. He subsequently joined SDZWA’s Central Africa Program, working in the Ebo Forest with a number of tropical forest primates, including chimpanzees, gorillas and drills. He went on to earn his master’s degree in primate conservation at Oxford Brookes University, UK—winning a habitat country scholarship in the process—and received his doctorate at Drexel University in Philadelphia, with focus on how genetic and ecological variation are linked with the behavioral ecology of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.

Ekwoge is passionate about primates, particularly great apes, and was the first to witness chimpanzees using stone and wood to crack open tree nuts in Cameroon—a new behavioral discovery for the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee. In 2013, Ekwoge was honored with the prestigious Whitley Fund for Nature Award for his grassroots efforts to engage local communities in gorilla conservation in the Ebo forest.

Float Walkers

Typically seen connecting with guests at the San Diego Zoo, a variety of wildlife puppets—including flamboyant flamingos, giant giraffes and a rowdy rhino—walked alongside our float.

Four children joined us, symbolizing our worldwide educational efforts through San Diego Zoo Wildlife Explorers and our new experience opening at the San Diego Zoo in February 2022: Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.

Map of the world with SDZWA hub locations highlighted.

Conservation Hubs

Our approach to sustainable and effective long-term conservation is anchored here in San Diego, fueling our efforts across eight conservation hubs around the globe.

 

In every hub, we protect and restore biodiversity—which includes animals and plants—by working with partners, using science-based strategies, and collaborating with local communities to safeguard nature.