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The 2016 Indianapolis Prize nomination period has closed. The nomination process for the 2018 Indianapolis Prize will begin on June 6, 2016.

​​​​​​​Nomination ​Process

The process to nominate someone is both short and simple, requiring a 500-word narrative about the individual along with up to four letters of support. 

The following information details the nomination criteria and process. ​If you ​have any questions or would like to request an application, please contact ​​.

​Nomination Criteria 

The Indianapolis Prize is awarded to an individual who has accomplished a significant achievement or achievements in the conservation of an animal species or group of species, resulting in an advance in long-term sustainability. 

This $250,000 cash award and the accompanying Lilly Medal are given every other year by the Indianapolis Zoo at a ceremony in late September.  The Prize is given to an individual, and is unrestricted in any way.  The Indianapolis Prize was awarded to George Archibald in 2006,   George Schaller in 2008, Iain Douglas-Hamilton in 2010, Steven Amstrup in 2012 and Patricia Wright in 2014.  

  • Any individual may nominate a candidate for the Indianapolis Prize; however, the Nominating Committee and Jury may consider the nominator in their evaluations.  

  • Nominees to receive the Indianapolis Prize must have accomplished an individual achievement or series of achievements that have resulted in a demonstrable positive impact on an animal species or group of species that is likely to improve long-term sustainability.

  • It must be demonstrated that this improvement in long-term sustainability was the result of direct and specific actions of the nominee.

  • The impact of achievements under consideration must be clearly recognizable when evaluated by the Nominating Committee and Jury.

  • Consideration will be given to:

    • ​​The challenges overcome by the nominee in the pursuit of his or her achievement

    • The significance of the achievement or achievements

    • The measurable outcomes resulting from the nominee's work

    • The quality of any science involved

    • The number of years the nominee has dedicated to the aspect of conservation work under evaluation

    • The unselfish dedication to conservation work that the nominee has demonstrated throughout his or her career

    • Any cooperation the nominee has demonstrated with zoological and other like-minded conservation organizations, particularly those for which the nominee does not work.

    • The stature of the nominator

    • At least two, but no more than four, confidential letters of support for the nomination, to be obtained by the nominator.

  • ​​Eligibility is restricted as follows:

    • The Indianapolis Prize is a program limited to individuals whose contributions to animal species conservation are substantial and noteworthy.

    • Nominees must be individual living persons, not organizations, who if selected as the recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, must agree to participate in activities as they may be scheduled in the United States at various times between September 22 and September 30, 2016 (transportation, lodging, and reasonable expenses will be paid by the Indianapolis Zoological Society).

    • Nominees must agree that, if selected as the recipient, they will reasonably assist in the obtaining of necessary permissions to use materials reflective of their work in an exhibit honoring that work at the Indianapolis Zoo, and will assist as necessary in the production of media and materials required to present a synopsis of their work at the Indianapolis Prize Gala.

    • Nominees may not be employees, Board Members, or volunteer staff of the Indianapolis Zoological Society.  Immediate family members or significant others of the Nominating Committee, Jury, Indianapolis Zoological Society employees, Board Members, and volunteer staff are also ineligible.​

​​​Nomination & Selection Process​ 

In order to be considered, nominations and all support letters must be received by the Selection Support Committee by Feb. 28, 2015.  Please send materials to  If necessary, the application and support letters can be mailed to the following address:


            Indianapolis Prize Selection Support Committee
1200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222-0309


All nominations received by Feb. 28, 2015 will be reviewed for appropriateness and completeness.  We will then contact the nominee and request additional documentation including a CV and supporting materials demonstrating measurable outcomes and scientific value.  The nominee will have until April 24, 2015 to supply those materials, and then qualifying nominations will be forwarded to the Nominating Committee.  Consisting of six recognized scientific and conservation sector experts and three zoological and community representatives, the Nominating Committee will select six nominees for consideration by the Jury.  The Jury, of similar composition to the Nominating Committee, but consisting of other individuals, will then select the recipient and a first alternate.


Questions may be emailed to


Disclaimer of Responsibility, Rejection of Applications, Disqualification. The Indianapolis Zoo is not responsible for lost, late, non-delivered, or misdirected mail, e-mail, or communications malfunctions of any kind in the administration of the Indianapolis Prize or for the failure of any Nomination Form to be received by the Indianapolis Zoo on account of postal or courier delays or losses, technical problems, or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Web site, or any combination thereof.  Nominee acknowledges and accepts that the Indianapolis Zoo reserves the absolute right to reject any late or incomplete application.  Likewise, if Nominee or the Nominating Party omit any material fact on the Nomination Form or in any other submitted materials, or if Nominee engages in immoral, improper, unseemly or illegal behavior, or any behavior adverse to the Indianapolis Zoo or the other nominees, whether intentional or unintentional, Nominee may be disqualified at any point in the process at the Indianapolis Zoo's sole discretion. If any disqualifying information or provision of false information is discovered at any stage of the selection process, Nominee may be removed from consideration and all Prize awards will be forfeited or returned in full.  ​