The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) held its annual gala at Central Park Zoo tonight where 500 guests celebrated the leadership of women in wildlife conservation and WCS’s impact on saving wildlife and wild places across the globe.

Jessica Moody, Assistant Curator of Mammals at the Bronx Zoo, and Natalia Rossi, Manager of the WCS Cuba Program spoke of the importance of mentoring and nurturing a new generation of women in conservation and the critical impact women have made in saving wildlife.

Jessica Moody said: “As I look at the next generation of young women entering this field with a passion for animals and conservation—and there are many!—I am excited to provide the mentorship I was so fortunate to receive and use the experiences and opportunities I have had here at WCS to empower more women in conservation.”

Said Natalia Rossi, Manager of the WCS Cuba Program: “I truly believe that the strides earlier generations of women in our field made—and the ones we are making happen every day with our hard work—are only meaningful if they enable the path for the next generation of young women into this field.

“You can only imagine the ‘toughness’ that you have to show when getting involved in crocodile conservation—a still male-dominated field. When you jump into muddy waters full of crocodiles and all male eyes are on you and you feel the silent wonder: is she going to make it? I imagine that same scrutiny imposed on so many of the women conservationists of my generation and before.”

Cristian Samper, President and CEO said: “As women across the professional world have pushed open doors to seize opportunities for leadership, women at WCS have led the world in wildlife conservation—whether in muddy boots, sandy flippers, or veterinary scrubs.

“WCS is stronger today because we have had so many women working in our field programs, our zoos, and our aquarium.”

Antonia Grumbach, WCS Chair, reflected on the leadership provided by women who have served on the WCS Board of Trustees and the WCS staff.

Grumbach said: “I am proud to represent the women on the Board who came before me and those who are currently on the Board. We are a great bunch. And I am very proud of the women on our staff. When I first started working for WCS in the 1970s in my earlier lawyer life, there were far fewer women on the board and working in our zoos and aquarium and in the field. All those changes are heartening, and I am sure they will continue.”

One of the powerful stories highlighted in the program focused on how WCS internships and volunteer opportunities can change lives by connecting children to science and conservation. One extraordinary young woman became homeless as she was entering high school. Despite living with her family in a shelter for the last four years, she participated in the Bronx Zoo STEM Career Program as she was fascinated by science and passionate about animals. In April, she learned that she has been admitted to Cornell University where she will be going to study veterinary science in the all.

About the Gala

Gala 2018, themed We Stand for Wildlife, celebrated the leadership of women in conservation. Speakers Dr. Jessica Moody, Assistant Curator of Mammals at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and Dr. Natalia Rossi, Cuba Country Manager for the Wildlife Conservation Society represented women in conservation. During one of New York City’s premiere social events of the season, gala guests enjoyed a cocktail reception around the sea lion pool featuring décor by Lewis Miller Design, followed by a seated dinner prepared by Peter Callahan Catering. Dancing continued under the stars with music by DJ Jane.

About Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. For more information, visit:, Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter @WCSNewsroom, and For more information: 347-840-1242.