13680740_10153766677550754_5964636570823315849_n-1As an AZUL member, you are an active contributor to the Minnesota Zoo’s conversation efforts around the world. Every year, a portion of the funds AZUL raises through membership fees, event attendance, and fundraising goes to help save wildlife.

One of the projects AZUL chose to support in 2016 was Black Rhino Conservation.  The Minnesota Zoo is a long-time partner of Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia and has employed the organization’s science advisor since 2006. This year, AZUL supported a grant for Zoo employee Josh Le to travel to Namibia for two weeks. Josh is the Communications and Media Relations Manager for the Zoo, and also happens to be a longstanding AZUL member!

On the black market, rhino horn is worth more by weight than gold and because of that, over 97% of the once thriving population has been killed off by poachers. At the low point in the 1990s, there were an estimated 25-40 black rhinos remaining in Namibia. Today, thanks in part to the efforts of the Minnesota Zoo and the Save the Rhino Trust, the population has grown to approximately 200.

Josh’s mission while in Namibia was to help the staff of Save the Rhino Trust develop a plan to promote awareness of their organization. He worked with them on social media engagement (follow “Save the Rhino Trust Namibia” on Facebook!), development of an e-communication strategy, and plans to improve corporate sponsorship. 13938340_10153812153890754_5833078274943387845_n

Josh also invited Sven Sundgaard from KARE 11 along on this trip to help promote awareness of the plight of black rhinos and the zoo’s efforts to help them. Sven excitedly made the trip, and recently published a video and blog post with details about his time there. To read more about his travels, and about Save the Rhino Trust, visit KARE 11’s site here.

Josh is proud to be a part of the AZUL community and thankful for the grant to help make this trip happen. Look for him at the next AZUL event to ask more!