top of page


Wildlife conservation
that makes a difference

A non-profit organization established in 2018, the Dr. Michael Hutchins Impact On Wildlife Fund supports wildlife conservation and education through direct field projects, community empowerment, and advocacy. 


Extraordinary people throughout the world, and who have a positive impact on the lives of others, are faced with significant challenges in their dedicated efforts that focus on conservation of the wildlife and/or the needs of the local communities in developing countries. 


The Dr. Michael Hutchins Impact On Wildlife Fund is part of our commitment to help them succeed and our commitment to the wildlife and the communities of the destinations we visit. It encompasses the actions and programs we get involved in, as well as those of our service partners in each country. 

Working with existing conservation and community-based organizations, we identify successful, well-managed programs that make a difference. In addition to direct financial support, we will also promote these conservation and community-based organizations through our website, blogs and other digital media.

The heart of the Dr. Michael Hutchins Impact On Wildlife Fund stems from the Impact On Wildlife Program born within our partner organization, World Safaris, and the World Safaris Council of Conservation and Science Advisors – a group of esteemed conservationists and scientists who provide professional guidance in the development of wildlife conservation travel programs and help evaluate project proposals.


The Dr. Michael Hutchins Impact On Wildlife Fund was created as a legacy to the commitment, contribution, and passion of Dr. Michael Hutchins, a leading wildlife biologist and conservationist who championed the role of zoos and aquariums in conserving rare species and who sought to protect wildlife from threats as diverse as the bushmeat trade and wind turbines. He passed away on January 15, 2018 in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania while on his way to lead a safari, one of his many passions.

Michael traveled to six continents and 35 countries to pursue his interests in wildlife and habitat conservation and sustainability. Growing upon a farm in rural Iowa, his father introduced him to nature, collecting butterflies, seining creeks for frogs and salamanders and hunting for fossils and minerals in the local gravel pit. This led to a life-long fascination for all things natural, and a deep commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation.

Michael’s extensive world-wide travels included many premier wildlife locations including Africa, Australia, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos Islands. Included among his many treasured experiences were: trapping and tagging mountain goats in the Olympic Mountains, SCUBA diving with manta rays and sharks on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, tracking jaguars and anacondas in the Brazilian Pantanal, observing resplendent quetzals in Monte Verde Rain Forest Reserve in Costa Rica, photographing tribal ceremonies in Papua New Guinea, being within a few feet of wild lions and leopards in Tanzania, banding Megellanic penguins in Patagonia, Argentina, and snorkeling with marine iguanas and climbing Volcano Darwin in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. He is a former member of the Explorer’s Club and a professional affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Dr. Hutchins had a long and highly successful career in wildlife science, management and conservation, having served as Graduate Instructor and Acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he taught courses in animal behavior (1976-1984), Curatorial Intern in Mammalogy, Conservation Biologist and Coordinator of Research at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s world-famous Bronx Zoo (1985-1990), William Conway Chair of Conservation and Science for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (1990-2005), which represents more than 230 accredited zoos and aquariums and 6,000 zoo professionals, and Executive Director/CEO of The Wildlife Society, the premier association representing over 11,000 wildlife managers and scientists (2005-2012). In 2013, Dr. Hutchins joined the American Bird Conservancy  (ABC) as Director of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, a leading bird conservation group; he led ABC’s national efforts to minimize the impact poorly sited wind turbines have on birds and other wildlife. He also served on multiple Boards such as Disney's Animal Kingdom/Worldwide Conservation Fund Advisory Board (1995-2011), the Global Insular Conservation Society, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and the Maryland Geological Society.

During his time at AZA, he oversaw AZA's Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, scientifically managed breeding program for endangered species. Working with U.S. and Chinese officials, he helped negotiate the Giant Panda Conservation Plan, which eventually brought pandas to the United States on long-term loans that support in situ conservation in China. He frequently advised zoos on animal management and exhibit planning, and often spoke to the media about zoo-related issues. 

Throughout his career, Dr. Hutchins found ways to be involved with the conservation of African wildlife. From 1999-2005, he served on the board of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, a multi-organizational consortium of major zoological institutions and conservation organizations formed to call attention to the illegal commercial trade in wildlife for meat in Africa. A report he co-authored on the captive management of elephants helped drive improvements in how zoos manage these animals. In 2012, he co-founded World Safaris,, a conservation-driven safari company, and led many trips to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, among other wildlife hotspots. 


Michael wrote and edited over 200 books, articles, and reports, many peer-reviewed, including serving as Editor Emeritus for Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, a 20-volume compendium covering the entire animal kingdom. He received his Ph.D. in Animal Behavior with minors in Ecology and Statistics from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1984, where he studied the behavioral ecology of Rocky Mountain goats in Olympic National Park, WA.


At the AZA 2018 Conference, this prestigious award was attributed to Dr. Michael Hutchins. His wife, Song Hutchins received the award at his place.

bottom of page