Announcing the 2018 Denver Zoological Conservation Award Winner

Dr. Chris Ray of the University of Colorado Boulder is This Year's Winner

pika on a rock

Dr. Chris Ray of the University of Colorado Boulder is This Year’s Winner

We are very excited to announce Dr. Chris Ray, Research Associate in the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the winner of the 2018 Denver Zoological Conservation Award.

Dr. Ray has worked tirelessly to better understand and bring recognition to the American pika, an alpine mammal familiar to hikers in the West, and believed to be a key sentinel for climate change. Dr. Ray has helped advance our understanding of pika ecology, and led efforts to raise awareness and plan for their conservation amid climate change. She has also engaged and inspired the public to help conserve this important Colorado wildlife species while working over the last eight years with the Front Range Pike Project, a citizen science project run by Denver Zoo and Rocky Mountain Wild.

We admire, appreciate, and thank Dr. Ray for her tireless efforts. Her ability to inspire and train the next generation of wildlife conservationists is motivating. She is truly a conservation leader within the community.

Since 1997, Denver Zoo has presented its annual Denver Zoological Foundation Conservation Award to someone who has made a significant contribution to wildlife conservation. This award is given to a uniquely qualified but unsung hero of conservation and includes a prize of $5,000.

In related news, the Front Range Pika Project has just completed its 8th and most extensive field season to date. In total, 125 dedicated volunteers hiked to 100 sites across Colorado to collect data on pika and their habitats during the 2018 field season. With the help of partners, we were able to expand the project with new sites in Rocky Mountain National Park, White River National Forest and across Colorado’s 14ers and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This expanded dataset will provide important information to help us better understand and manage the impacts of climate change on pika. If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved, please visit

Photo Credit: Dick Orleans