Sigourney Weaver is the 2016 recipient of the Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award at the Indianapolis Prize.
The Indianapolis Prize is the world’s leading award for animal conservation. The Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award was named in recognition of Tony and Emmy-winning actor Jane Alexander, whose advocacy for wild things and wild places has included involvement with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Audubon Society and Panthera. Alexander is an Honorary Chair of the Indianapolis Prize and received the inaugural Global Wildlife Ambassador award in 2012.
She created the award to honor individuals who have been powerful, effective, credible and consistent voices for wildlife conservation. Working with field conservationists and scientists, the Global Wildlife Ambassadors use their communications skills to tell the stories of threatened and endangered species, connecting them with the public, businesses and policy makers.
“I am thrilled that Sigourney Weaver will be receiving the second Global Wildlife Ambassador Award. Her voice has made a significant difference in the protection of mountain gorillas, and she is an outstanding conservationist in our entertainment world,” – Jane Alexander
Weaver has captivated audiences worldwide through a wide range of memorable characters, winning acclaim as one of the most accomplished actresses on stage and screen. But it was her starring role as primatologist Dian Fossey in the 1988 movie Gorillas in the Mist that inspired her to become a conservationist.
As Honorary Chair of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI), Weaver has been at the center of one of the most remarkable conservation success stories of the past half- century. Mountain gorillas are the only great ape subspecies in the world to be increasing in number. With fewer than 900 individuals, their sustainability is still fragile, but the research, anti-poaching and other techniques pioneered by Dian Fossey have resulted in huge gains in knowledge and a critical population rebound.
The power of Weaver’s celebrity may help gain the attention needed to tell the story of gorillas in the wild, but she is not just a name on a letterhead, according to Crowther. “Sigourney is an active participant in DFGFI and understands the factors affecting gorillas and their habitats,” he noted. “She helps carry on the legacy of Dian Fossey and shows others how they, too, can make a difference.”
Seventeen years after Gorillas in the Mist was released, Weaver returned to Rwanda in 2005 to star in Gorillas Revisited for BBC and Animal Planet and remind the public of Dian Fossey’s groundbreaking impact.
“Playing Dian brought me into her world and the world of gorillas and made it abundantly clear to me just how much of a difference one individual can make. Our children deserve to inherit a world of wildlife. And if countries and politicians can join forces to save the great apes and their habitats, then there is hope that gorillas will be around for generations to come.” – Sigourney Weaver
Weaver’s environmental commitment became further evident at the United Nations General Assembly in October 2006, when she joined more than 60 conservation organizations and ambassadors in calling for a moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling and outlined the practice’s widespread threat to marine habitats. She also lent her voice to the National Resources Defense Council’s “Acid Test,” a documentary exploring ocean acidification and its effects on key species in the food chain.
Weaver continues to take roles that exemplify conservation action, including narrating BBC’s hit television series Planet Earth and playing Dr. Grace Augustine in James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar.
Her involvement has earned several honors, including the Explorer’s Club Communication Award and Audubon’s Rachel Carson Award.
Weaver will receive the award on Oct. 15, 2016 at the Indianapolis Prize Gala. Tickets for the Gala can be purchased online here.