Home / Newsroom / Global Humane Awards Prof. Theo B. Pagel with the 2023 Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation

Global Humane Awards Prof. Theo B. Pagel with the 2023 Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation

Pagel has dedicated his life to ensuring the survival of countless species, and inspiring and educating generations of people to care.

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, September 13, 2023 — Global Humane has awarded Prof. Theo B. Pagel, CEO of the Cologne Zoo in Germany, with the 2023 Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation. This award was created in honor of Wolfgang F. Kiessling, the founder of Loro Parque and a global leader in conservation.

Global Humane’s Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation seeks to recognize those leading conservation scientists who are making positive and meaningful changes in the fields of conservation and species preservation. With the future of up to one million species under pressure, it is important that we recognize and celebrate animal conservationists who are racing against the clock to save them.

“Theo Pagel has led a global charge to push back the effects of what scientists call a Sixth Mass Extinction, with up to one million species at risk of disappearing forever. His ability to bring people together to make positive change for nature is inspiring,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of Global Humane. “We are so pleased to honor him with the Kiessling Prize as a hero for our planet and its animals.”

Pagel is the CEO of the Cologne Zoo and has led significant global change for animals. He was inspired at an early age by his father, also an animal lover, and started a breeding program in 1988 to save the endangered Bali Starling. His extraordinary breeding success both in zoos and in the wild includes the Bali Starling, the first German breeding of Little Penguin and the world’s first breeding of Elegant Pitta.

“What a great honour it is to receive the Kiessling Prize for Conservation. I am truly humbled,” said Prof. Theo Pagel, CEO Cologne Zoo. “I have always felt inspired to lead teams of enthusiastic animal experts and guide one of the most progressive and conservation-oriented zoos in Europe. Together, we’ve discovered new species and supported dozens of impactful conservation projects worldwide.”

Pagel was the former president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and currently co-chairs the international Reverse the Red (RtR) initiative of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The RtR is a global movement that ignites strategic cooperation and action to ensure the survival of wild species.

“There is simply no higher purpose than that to protect and preserve our world’s most precious asset – animal life. It brings me great honor and pleasure to bestow this award on those who are leading the way in the field of conservation,” said Wolfgang Kiessling, president, and founder of Loro Parque and Loro Parque Foundation.

Media kit including photos, videos and soundbites can be found here for free use.


About the Award:

The Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation was created to shine an international light on those who achieve significant positive change in the field of conservation practice, theory, and research.

The Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize committee is led by Wolfgang Kiessling, Christoph Kiessling, Cybell Kiessling, Dr. Javier Almunia, Dr. Robin Ganzert and Brad Andrews. The committee screens and votes on the applicants, ultimately choosing the top conservationist who receives the Kiessling Prize and a grant of $80,000 (U.S. currency) to help further their work to make significant contributions to the practical application, research, and theory of species protection. The first winner of the award was Dr. Jon Paul Rodriguez, the Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. The Kiessling Prize is awarded annually. Applications for the 2024 Wolfgang Kiessling International Prize for Species Conservation will be open spring of 2024. Applicants can learn more about the prize and submit their credentials by visiting


About Wolfgang Kiessling and Loro Parque:

Wolfgang Kiessling is a world-renowned conservationist and founder of Loro Parque, one of the most well-respected zoological institutions in the world, named twice “#1 Zoo of the World” by TripAdvisor, and known for the excellence of its facilities and its incredible work to save species on the brink of extinction. Up until today, Loro Parque Fundación has saved 12 parrot species from extinction. Kiessling was awarded the Gold Medal of the bird journal Gefiederte Welt for the first breeding of the blue-throated macaw and was honored with the Gold Medal from the Government of the Canary Islands, the Gold Medal from the Government of Spain, named “Adoptive Son of Tenerife” by the Island Council as well as the Town of Puerto de la Cruz, and was also honored with Spain’s highest distinction: the Principe Felipe Award for Business Excellence.

Founded in 1972 by Kiessling, Loro Parque was initially created as a paradise for parrots and began its journey with only 150 parrots. The park, located on the island of Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, now has more than 4,000 specimens of 350 different species and subspecies of parrots, demonstrating its outstanding success in boosting the parrot population. Loro Parque is also home to flamingos, cranes, penguins, and swans, as well as many species of mammals and marine life. As billions of human beings exhaust the world’s resources, Loro Parque plays a critical role in education, science, and conservation. In 2017, Loro Parque become the first zoo in Europe to receive Global Humane Certification, reinforcing its recognition as a global leader in animal welfare.


About Global Humane:

Global Humane is the international brand of American Humane, which is the United States’ first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare, helping to verify the humane treatment of more than one billion animals across the globe each year. Founded in 1877, American Humane has been First to Serve™ the cause of animals and for 145 years has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in the humane movement. For more information or to support our lifesaving work, please visit, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and subscribe to our channel on YouTube for the latest breaking news and features about the animals with whom we share our Earth.

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