The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is one of the most well known non-profit organizations that focuses on protecting and saving wildlife and the natural environment. Attorney Madison Gran started the conservancy in 1895 as the NY Zoological Society with the purpose of protecting animal species. By 1933, Andrew Green and Henry Fairfield Osborn had joined Grant in the mission of protecting wildlife, and the name was changed to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Many well-known philanthropists (such as Andrew Carnegie and Theodore Roosevelt) also contributed to the Wildlife Conservation Society in its early days.
In 1899, the City of New York provided land and some funding to the conservancy which led to the opening of the Bronx Zoo. Due to its success and established reputation, the conservancy later took over the New York Aquarium. The WCS also helped open the Central Park Zoo, the Queens Zoo, and the Prospect Park Zoo with the help of the government, private investors, and philanthropists.
William T. Hornaday had a great impact publicizing the problems that wildlife faced. His 30 years as Director of the Bronx Zoo included campaigning to the public. His efforts lead to stricter environmental and wildlife laws. One of the most successful projects he led was the Bison Campaign which aimed to save the animals from extinction. The Brooklyn Zoo was able to donate 15 bison to the midwest and successfully establish three bison preservations.
William Beebe was known for his success in starting a field research program of birds. His studies led him to conduct research in Asia, and he ultimately started the Society Department of Tropical Research. He was also a pioneer of the Bathysphere. The Bathysphere was created by Otis Barton so that Beebe could study animals in the ocean. Beebe was able to successfully go half a mile underwater and take notes on what he saw.
Fairfield Osborn (son of Henry Fairfield Osborn) was responsible leading field biology and conservation projects after World War II. He helped establish the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park. Jackson Hole Wildlife Park eventually became a part of Grand Teton National Park.
Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society is responsible for running over 500 research projects throughout the world with the mission of conserving the world’s wildlife and wild places.