June 3, 2024

The Leuser Wins

Denver Zoo and Forum Konservasi Leuser Join Forces
to Save Indonesia's Most Endangered Species

When developing and expanding our global conservation strategy, Denver Zoo intentionally seeks out places and projects where we can make a major impact with modest resources. Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem—a six-million-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site—is home to countless fragile habitats and vulnerable species. As part of the new Asia Field Conservation efforts we launched earlier this year, we're thrilled to support Forum Konservasi Leuser, the region's leading conservation organization, with vital funding and expertise.

As the largest contiguous forest in Southeast Asia, the Leuser Ecosystem is one of the most biologically rich and diverse ecosystems in the world. More than 105 mammal species, 382 bird species and 95 reptile and amphibians species make their home here. It's also the last place on Earth where Critically Endangered Sumatran elephants, tigers, orangutans and rhinoceroses coexist in the wild. The majority of the ~400 remaining Sumatran tigers live within Leuser's boundaries, as well as the last living Sumatran rhinos—estimated to be less than 50 total.

two elephants walking on path

An Ecosystem Under Siege

This vital ecosystem also provides food and water for millions of people. Generations of Gayo, Alas, Kluet, Aneuk, Jamee and Karo communities rely on the area's unique biodiversity for their livelihoods, as they have done for millennia. In addition to decimating critical wildlife habitat, deforestation also puts nearby human communities at risk for flash flooding.

What's more, Leuser's unique peatlands hold unusually high environmental carbon stores. In this wildfire-prone area, it's not uncommon for a single year's burn to release thousands of years' worth of fossil fuel emissions. As a zoo-based conservation organization, we're naturally focused on protecting the region's rare and charismatic wildlife. But losing a place like Leuser is really a loss for the entire planet.

How Denver Zoo is Helping

Denver Zoo is excited to be working with Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL), a passionate grass-roots NGO working to protect this unique area and its wildlife. Through this partnership, Denver Zoo will help FKL build a field station for research and poaching patrol, assist with the restoration of local habitats and much more.

We’ll also work in surrounding Sumatran communities to raise awareness about the long-term effects people have on these fragile ecosystems—with a focus on helping local people secure livelihoods with lower environmental impact. And here at the Zoo, our Sumatran tiger and orangutan family are also raising awareness! By helping our guests form a connection with charismatic individuals like ChloJo the Sumatran tiger and Siska the Sumatran orangutan, we can spread the word about the dire need to protect their relatives in the wild.

ChoLo the Tiger


One Planet, One Health

Everything in nature is connected. That’s why our strategy follows the One Health model—a unified approach that connects humans, animals and ecosystems for the good of all. In addition to our work with wildlife and habitats, we must also work with local people to identify and address the root cause of each threat. The goal? A world in which humans and animals can share resources in a way that’s sustainable for both. There’s much work yet to be done. Our Leuser Ecosystem work is only part of the bigger picture...stay tuned for more announcements!

Wondering how you can help? All visitsmemberships and donations support our wildlife conservation efforts in Colorado + worldwide. Be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagramX and LinkedIn. And stay tuned for a BIG announcement on June 25! 


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