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​The Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc.

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​Join us for an exciting evening celebrating the heroes of animal conservation. The 2018 Indianapolis Prize Gala will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, from 7-10pm at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. ​

To purchase tickets for the event please click here.​ ​​
For sponsorship opportunities please click

 The Event

Hosted in downtown Indianapolis, this biennial celebration brings the world's attention to the cause of animal conservation and the brave, talented and dedicated men and women who spend their lives saving the Earth's endangered animal species. The Indianapolis Prize Gala was never intended to be a quiet, academic, science-focused affair. Each event has been an energetic and spectacular merriment of conservation victories.

For the Indianapolis Zoological Society, the gathering of renowned figures in conservation underscores the organization's ongoing commitment to solving complex global challenges.
The Gala is fashioned to inspire guests to care more about animal conservation and place these heroes, who often work in desolate and dangerous conditions, on the pedestal usually reserved for sports and entertainment stars.

Take a look back at the past Galas, which have put an international spotlight on conservation issues and received global media attention. You will be enlightened, entertained, and most of all, moved by what you see. Please enjoy.

​The 2016 Indianapolis Prize Gala

October 15, 2016

On Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, more than 1,000 guests were welcomed at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis for an exuberant celebration honoring the men and women protecting some of the planet’s most endangered species.

A VIP reception kicked off the evening, during which special guests had the opportunity to mingle with conservationists, celebrity ambassadors and a few feathered friends — a harpy eagle and Amazon parrots.
The evening was co-hosted by NBC Chief Environmental Correspondent Anne Thompson and writer, adventurer and TV broadcaster Ben Fogle. Together they led the audience in recognizing the great achievements of Carl Jones, Joel Berger, Dee Boersma, Rodney Jackson, Carl Safina and Amanda Vincent. Global wildlife ambassador Jane Alexander presented acclaimed actor Sigourney Weaver with the Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award for her work with The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

Audience members were transported around the world through stunning films about each honoree created by Mays Entertainment and inspired by live musical performances featuring Project Trio and DePauw University's orchestra.

At the close of the evening's festivities, "Champions for Our Planet: The Indianapolis Prize Guide to Animal Conservation Giving" was announced and handed out to individuals as a way to take action and directly support some of the era's greatest conservationists. 

​Gala VideosOpening of the 2016 Indianapolis Prize Gala​
Conservation Hope, featuring David Attenborough​
Winner, Dr. Carl Jones​
Finalist, Dr. Joel Berger
Finalist, Dr. P. Dee Boersma
Finalist, Dr. Rodney Jackson
Finalist, Dr. Carl Safina
Finalist, Dr. Amanda Vincent​
Dr. Carl Jones, Gala Remarks
Sigourney Weaver, Gala Remarks​
2016 Indianapolis Prize Recap​​​

Related Videos​
Indianapolis Prize Leadership Breakfast
WTHR-TV Special, Indianapolis Prize: Saving Species​


The 2014 Indianapolis Prize Gala

September 27, 2014

The 2014 Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by Cummins Inc. proved to be an even more spectacular celebration than years past. Hosted by Saba Douglas-Hamilton and Frank Pope, the internationally known conservation power-couple of Save the Elephants, Dr. Patricia Wright was recognized as winner of the 2014 Indianapolis Prize for her work protecting lemurs and bringing a sustainable way of life to the people of Madagascar. As the winner, Wright took home an unrestricted cash award of $250,000 and the Lilly Medal, an original commemorative medal designed to reflect the commitment of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, which has provided funding for the Indianapolis Prize since 2006. Each of the five Indianapolis Prize finalists received a $10,000 cash prize as well.
"Winning the 2014 Indianapolis Prize is a tremendous honor," said Wright, whose work saving lemurs – the most critically threatened mammal group in the world – was recently featured in the documentary "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar," directed by David Douglas and narrated by Morgan Freeman. "I'm humbled to carry the title of Indianapolis Prize winner and I'm thrilled to put part of the Prize money to work helping the lemurs and the people of Madagascar." 
The 2014 event marked the fifth time we've come together to recognize these real-life heroes whose remarkable accomplishments have truly changed the world. Below you will find spectacular videos created to tell the stories of the top conservationists in the world. The videos were produced all over the world by Matt Mays Entertainment and were featured at the Gala. ​

Gala Videos
Opening of the 2014 Indianapolis Prize Gala
Winner, Dr. Patricia Wright 
Finalist, Dr. Gerardo Ceballos
Finalist, Dr. Joel Berger
Finalist, Dr. Carl Safina
Finalist, Dr. Russ Mittermeier
Finalist, Dr. Carl Jones Feature 
Closing of the 2014 Indianapolis Prize Gala​​

Related Videos
2014 Prize Gala Recap

Leadership Breakfast Feature, September 26, 2014
Stony Brook University Tweet-Up, April, 22, 2014

​The 2012 Indianapolis Pri​ze Gala
September 29, 2012


Regarded as the world's leading award for animal conservation, the 2012 Indianapolis Prize Gala, presented by Cummins, Inc. on Sept. 29, 2012, at the JW Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis, celebrated the work of 6 individuals for their unstoppable commitment to animal conservation efforts. The Gala was honored to have two committed public ambassadors for conservation as its co-hosts. Hollywood leading man Josh Duhamel shared the podium with conservationist and television presenter Saba Douglas-Hamilton at this event.

In recognition for his life-long work to transform the world's understanding of polar bears and his efforts to save them, Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bears International, was named the 2012 recipient of the Indianapolis Prize. "Steve Amstrup is widely regarded as the most important and influential scientist working on polar bear conservation today," said Michael Crowther, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. "By bringing greater awareness to the polar bears' plight and plausible solutions, he has created a lifeline for the entire species."

Amstrup was presented with an unrestricted award of $100,000 and the Lilly Medal, from Lilly executive Bart Peterson, while 2006 Indianapolis Prize winner Dr. George Archibald from the International Crane Foundation presented the first-ever Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award to Jane Alexander herself. Both of them delivered passionate calls for the public to join in the cause of conservation, for the sake not only of themselves, but for future generations. 

The evening came to an end with a musical performance by the Indianapolis Children's Choir, accompanied by award-winning singer, Sylvia McNair, in a heartfelt rendition of "Bless the Beasts and the Children." Below you will find links to the videos, presented during the ceremony, that were created to tell the remarkable stories of the top conservationists in the world. The videos were produced all over the world by Matt Mays Entertainment and were featured at the Gala. ​  

Gala Videos
Opening of the 2012 Indianapolis Prize Gala
Winner, Dr. Steven Amstrup
Finalist, Dr. Markus Borner
Finalist, Dr. Rodney Jackson
Finalist, Dr. Carl Jones
Finalist, Dr. Russell Mittermeier
Finalist, Dr. Patricia Wright
Closing of the 2012 Indianapolis Prize Gala

Related Videos
2012 Indianapolis Prize Gala Recap
2012 Indianapolis Prize​ Promo
Informal Chat with the 2012 Indianapolis Prize Finalists [close]​​​

The 2010 Indianapolis Prize Gala

September 25, 2010

Relentless in his lifelong devotion to the elephants' survival, Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., was honored as the 2010 recipient of the Indianapolis Prize. In recognition for his lifetime achievements, Dr. Douglas-Hamilton received $100,000 and the Lilly Medal at a gala ceremony presented by Cummins Inc. on Sept. 25, 2010, at The Westin Hotel in Indianapolis.

"The plight of the African elephant is intensely personal to Iain. He has studied, named and nurtured thousands of African elephants for generations, and it is this intimate understanding of and love for these magnificent mammals that drives Iain's forceful efforts to secure a future for endangered African elephants," said Michael Crowther, President/CEO, Indianapolis Zoo. "Iain truly epitomizes what it means to be a hero."

During a moving program, the inspiring stories of all six of the finalists for the 2010 Indianapolis Prize were presented on giant video screens inside the elaborately decorated ballroom at The Westin.  In accepting the 2010 award, Iain Douglas-Hamilton delivered an extraordinary speech and in it, a call to action to save elephants. Douglas-Hamilton, came to the podium to receive the Lilly Medal dressed in his Scottish kilt. Five of the six finalists were in attendance, and each one earned a standing ovation from the black-tie crowd.

Among the evening's highlights were special performances by multiple award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch and Indiana's own dramatic soprano Angela Brown, who was joined by a chorus of the Indianapolis Children's Choir. Hosting the evening's event was award-winning actress Alfre Woodard, and 2008 Indianapolis Prize recipient Dr. George Schaller was also in the audience.

Thanks to our partners at Mays Entertainment, the video presentations at the Indianapolis Prize Galas are outstanding contributions to making these evenings of celebration truly memorable. Below you will find the links to these spectacular videos created to tell the stories of the top conservationists in the world.  

Gala Videos​
Opening of the 2010 I​ndianapolis Prize Gala
Winner, Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton
Finalist, Dr. Gerardo Ceballos
Finalist, Dr. Rodney Jackson
Finalist, Dr. Laurie Marker
Finalist, Dr. Carl Safina
Finalist, Dr. Amanda Vincent


The 2008 Indianapolis Prize Gala
September 27, 2008

​World-renowned field biologist, Dr. George B. Schaller, was honored at the second Indianapolis Prize Gala, presented by the AES Corporation on September 27, 2008, for his relentless pursuit to save the world's endangered species since 1952.

"No other individual exemplifies the spirit of this award better than George Schaller," said Michael Crowther, President/CEO, Indianapolis Zoo. "He truly leads and propels others to join him in his fight to save animals everywhere, from the tigers of India to the gorillas of Rwanda."

Hosted at Indianapolis' downtown Marriott Hotel, this spectacular night of entertainment, co-hosted by Jane Alexander and Sam Waterston, not only honored the winner, but all the finalists for the 2008 Prize, highlighting the work they do to preserve the wildlife and wild places of this Earth. 

The program included some beautiful and emotionally impactful videos featuring all the finalists for the Prize. Schaller and three of the other finalists — Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Dr. Rodney Jackson and Dr. Laurie Marker— were present, and each received a standing ovation from the crowd. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Lilly Medal to Dr. Schaller and his acceptance speech, prompting everyone to more action to save the world's endangered animals. The evening also included stirring performances by the Eastern Star Choir and acrobatics from Electric Cirque.

Watch these outstanding presentations from the 2008 Indianapolis Prize Gala by clicking on the links below.​

Gala Videos​

Opening of the 2008 Indianapolis Prize Gala
2008 Indianapolis Prize Overview
Finalists of the 2008 Indianapolis Prize
Winner, Dr. George Schaller

Related Videos and Materials
Conversation with George Schaller at Ball State, 2008​

George Schaller on Snow Leopards
Voice of America Radio interview with George Schaller


The Inaugural 2006 Indianapolis Prize Gala

​September 30, 2006

It was more than five years in the planning, and when the audience of nearly 1,000 guests at the 2006 Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by AES Corporation rose in a standing ovation for the award's first recipient, it marked the confluence of some of the most talented, influential and accomplished conservationists from around the world. Indianapolis Prize nominees, committee members and jury members came together to tell the stories of hard working conservationists and to honor them as the heroes they are. The Indianapolis Prize Gala came together thanks to the commitment and dedication of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, which provided the impetus and the funds. 

From more than 50 nominees, six finalists were chosen, and the Jury selected Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, as the first Indianapolis Prize recipient. On Sept. 30, the Indianapolis Prize Gala presented by the AES Corporation was held at the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Jane Alexander presided over a wonderful program filled with the stunning video profiles of the finalists, a welcome from then-Mayor Bart Peterson and performances by Cathy Morris and the Indianapolis Children's Choir. 

As he accepted the Lilly Medal, Archibald discussed his beloved cranes and the need for the developed world, where crane species are recovering, to aid the developing world, where cranes are not only endangered but rapidly disappearing. He then called to the stage the other attending finalists — Dr. Holly Dublin, Dr. Simon Stuart, and Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton. A true conservationist, Archibald put all of the $100,000 back into projects to save cranes in India, Russia and Asia. ​
Please watch these presentations from the 2006 Indianapolis Prize Gala. 

Winner, George Archibald
Finalist, David Mech 
Finalist, Holly Dublin 
Finalist, Roger Payne 
Finalist, Simon Stuart 
Finalist, Iain Douglas-Hamilton