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American Friends of Durrell

is a non-profit organization which helps save species from extinction. It assists Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in its worldwide efforts to protect and restore threatened species and their wild habitats.

Most conservation organizations go in for spectacular or cuddly animals, but we are different. We are the champions of all animals, even the 'little guys', the inconspicuous creatures that are just as crucial to the ecology of the planet as the more appealing ones. We speak up for the animals that other people forget, such as...

About > Background

The great British writer and conservationist, Gerald Durrell, was a visionary, a pioneer and a man with a mission. He believed that good zoos could do great things in conservation, and more than 50 years ago he set out to prove it.

Gerald created a modest zoo on a small island situated between England and France in the English Channel - the original Jersey for which New Jersey is named. There he and his keepers began to breed the rarest of rare animals. He soon got scientists on board his 'ark' to study the species in the zoo and in the wild. Then teachers joined to train the people of the countries where the animals come from to breed and study them. Gerald's team and the local people began to work together to protect these threatened species and their habitats and to help them recover.

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust saves threatened species and their habitats by engaging with local communities in more than a dozen countries and training hundreds of people from around the world every year. Usually just called "Durrell", its headquarters are at the wildlife park in Jersey, British Isles, set up by Gerald for the breeding of rare species so that they don't disappear forever.

In the five years to 2014 Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust received more than a million dollars in grants and donations from America, thanks to the generosity of Americans and their belief in the importance of its work. Supporters include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, The Turtle Conservancy, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, several zoos and non-profit foundations and more than 200 individuals.

American Friends of Durrell was established in 2014 to facilitate contributions to Durrell. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the purpose of which, as stated in our Bylaws, is to promote and support the programs and activities of Durrell in its mission to save species from extinction.

About > Funding

American Friends of Durrell considers projects from a list proposed by Durrell, either approving or rejecting them, but we only disperse grants if funds are available. Durrell reports back regularly on the progress of our approved projects.

We gather funds in two ways. First, by direct appeals for specific projects we have approved, and second, by building up general funds which can be made available immediately once approval is given.

Specific Projects

These are projects already approved, well-formulated and ready to go, revolving around a specific theme, such as the Training for Tamarin Conservation and the Alison Jolly Madagascar Scholarship.

See our specific projects

General Projects

Donations are received to support Durrell's three core themes - Field Programs, Conservation Academy and Wildlife Park, as well as to contribute to operational costs.

See our general projects

About > People

American Friends of Durrell (AFD) is run by a small Board of Directors, all of whom are US citizens and who work for AFD on a pro bono basis.

Click the tabs below to see profiles of AFD's Directors.

Lee Durrell, as widow of Gerald Durrell, brings a particular standing and expertise to AFD. She received a Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University in 1979 and worked alongside her late husband in the field of species conservation, popularising it through books, radio and television. Lee assumed the mantle of Honorary Director of Durrell from Gerald, an ambassadorial, unremunerated position, which allows her great familiarity and insight into the operations of Durrell. She serves as a Director of AFD and acts as its President. In line with AFD's conflict of interest policy, Lee has agreed not to vote on any matter involving a conflict of interest between her duties as President and Director of AFD and her honorary position with Durrell. Please click here to see an article about Lee in Memphis Magazine by Anne Cunningham O'Neill, July 2013.

Wendy Shea, a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, is a retired attorney with extensive experience in healthcare and general corporate law. She previously served as Vice President General Counsel for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a world-renowned pediatric cancer research and treatment center in Memphis, Tennessee. She also has non-profit business management experience as the former Executive Director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Memphis and Shelby County, Inc. She continues to be actively engaged on a volunteer basis with various community organizations focusing on the needs of abused and neglected children in the child welfare system. Wendy serves on the Board of Directors of AFD.

Milner Stanton was an investment banker/analyst in the Fixed Income Banking Division of Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. for 19 years before retiring at the end of 2006. Morgan Keegan (now Raymond James) is a full-service brokerage and investment banking firm and one of the largest such firms off Wall Street in the nation. Milner was responsible for the structuring and execution of bond issues for numerous state and local jurisdictions and their agencies as well as for hospitals, educational institutions and both large and small corporations. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Economics and from the University of Kentucky with an M.B.A., concentrating in Finance. She serves as a Director of AFD and acts as its Vice President and Treasurer.

Harriet McGeorge is a registered landscape architect with more than 36 years of practical experience, operating her own design firm (McGeorge and Associates) for the past 25 years. She graduated from L.S.U. in 1978 with a B.A. in Landscape Architecture. Harriet has participated in numerous studies on zoological park design, including gorilla habitats in association with the Dallas Zoo. She has maintained a keen interest in Durrell for 35 years and is familiar with many of its conservation projects. Harriet serves as a Director of AFD and acts as its Secretary.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is the Patron of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Admiring her spirit, Gerald Durrell approached the young Princess Anne to invite her to become the Trust's Patron in 1972. She agreed to take on the role, with one condition - that the Trust make the role a demanding one! She has worked tirelessly on behalf of Durrell's mission to save species from extinction, visiting the headquarters in Jersey every few years. She has also visited Durrell's Field Programs in Mauritius, Brazil and Madagascar, and met many graduates of Durrell Conservation Academy in their home countries to discuss their work.

Henry Cavill, now known to the world as 'Superman', became Durrell's Ambassador in 2014. He was born in Jersey and as a child spent many happy hours at Durrell Wildlife Park. On becoming Ambassador, Henry said, "I'm enormously proud to be part of a team that makes such a huge positive impact on the world. Durrell is an organization with a mission I can really get behind. I feel that saving the diversity of life on our planet will be seen as increasingly important in the not-too-distant future. I genuinely believe that Durrell provides hope for those endangered animals that others may have given up on already. It 'does the seemingly impossible'; I would be truly humbled if I help to make that possible."

Projects > Specific

These are projects already approved, well-formulated and ready to go, usually revolving around a specific, discrete theme, such as...

A pied tamarin at Durrell

Tiny monkeys from South America are in grave danger, none more so than the pied tamarin from the region around Manaus. This and other endangered South American monkeys benefit from the AFD approved project Training for Tamarin Conservation. Tamarins are small rainforest-dwelling monkeys, which are facing extinction because of loss of habitat. Many end up in zoos and rescue centers. Training for Tamarin Conservation brings together the animal keepers and conservationists from Durrell Wildlife Park with their counterparts in Brazil in courses and practical sessions teaching tamarin conservation, including how to improve captive conditions for the little monkeys and how to release them back to the wild. A significant portion of course/practical content covers working with local communities to set up and manage protected areas, including creating corridors of trees linking one patch of forest to another.

Madagascar pochard

The rarest duck in the world is the Madagascar pochard, which benefits from Durrell's largest field program, along with many other endangered species from Madagascar. With a budget of more than a million dollars, a staff of 30 and operations in eight remote sites, this program is partially supported by the AFD project entitled Madagascar Program Management and Coordination. AFD has also approved support for an annual award to allow a Malagasy conservation scientist to attend the Endangered Species Recovery course offered by Durrell Conservation Academy on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. This Alison Jolly Madagascar Scholarship has been set up to honor Dr Alison Jolly, an eminent American primatologist, who passed away in February 2014. Alison was among the first scientists to study wild lemurs, devoting her life to them and to the people of Madagascar for fifty years. She was a great friend of Gerald and Lee Durrell. www.durrell.org/latest/news/the-leading-lady-of-lemurs/
See also Thank You, Madagascar - Conservation Diaries of Alison Jolly.

The Montserrat mountain chicken frog

The Caribbean Islands have the largest proportion of threatened amphibians in the world. AFD is supporting Durrell’s multi-year rescue effort called Saving Amphibians from Extinction in the Caribbean. One of the threats is the global epidemic of the deadly frog-attacking chytrid fungus. Durrell is working in Montserrat and Dominica to study the spread of chytrid and to try to control its effects by environmental manipulation. Other threats come from habitat loss, which is especially serious on the enormous island of Hispaniola. Durrell is leading surveys on the distribution and population sizes of amphibians in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to guide decisions on conservation action, as well as training local people in these skills. Durrell is initiating breeding trials for a number of species, as captive breeding will be a necessary tool for preventing the extinction of many of them.

Projects > General

These projects support Durrell's three core themes - Field Programs, Conservation Academy and Wildlife Park - as well as contribute to operational costs. Durrell's three core themes, or areas of specialization, interact with and reinforce each other. With decisions based on sound science, this integrated approach leads to dramatic rescues of species on the brink of extinction.

Each theme is described below.

  • Rescue some of the most threatened species in the most threatened places in the world.

  • Focus on islands, where unique species are under great pressure, and on animal groups suffering the worst declines, such as primates and amphibians.

  • Employ 60 dedicated staff on 50 projects in 13 countries involving field research, species and habitat restoration, in-country breeding and release programmes, policy and planning support, community conservation and capacity-building.

  • Operate in Antigua, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Galapagos, India, Indonesia, Jersey, Madagascar, Mauritius, Montserrat and St Lucia.

  • Instructed more than 3,500 students from 139 countries in the principles and practices of endangered species recovery since 1980; current annual intake exceeds 450 students.

  • Draws upon the skills of more than 50 staff from the Wildlife Park and Field Programs to deliver training.

  • Provides training in university-style facilities adjacent to the Park, with a second campus established in Mauritius in 2013.

  • Offered more than 20 courses abroad since the early 2000s, tailored to the needs of conservationists from the relevant countries.

  • Training format ranges from year-long graduate courses to three day workshops and conservation internships.

  • Partners with universities.

  • The schools programme offers structured and informal learning activities for more than 5,000 young people per year from Jersey, UK, Europe and USA.

  • Hub of Durrell's activities, situated in 32 acres of beautiful Jersey countryside, employing 100 staff.

  • Home to 120 species from gorillas to rare frogs, opening a window on Durrell's international work and inspiring visitors.

  • Threatened species breed at the Park for release to the wild, for conservation research and for training of Academy students.

  • Staff teach at the Academy and support Field Programs.

  • Manages international studbooks for endangered species.

  • Develops and shares animal husbandry techniques to guide and improve management both in breeding centres and the wild.

  • Exposes more than 200,000 people a year to animals, talks and messaging to help them better understand and value the biodiversity and ecosystem services on which we all depend.

  • Require 20% of Durrell's income, the other 80% being spent on the conservation mission and related activities

  • Include administrative staff and stationery costs, electricity and insurance charges, professional fees and maintenance of buildings and grounds.

  • Contributions to operations are indeed unglamorous, but they are meaningful and most deeply appreciated!

Projects > Actual

American Friends of Durrell has provided funds for the following projects:


  • Reintroduction of the Ploughshare Tortoise in Madagascar
  • Disney Conservation Hero Award to Juliette Velosoa of Madagascar
  • Durrell General Support


  • Reintroduction of the Ploughshare Tortoise in Madagascar
  • Reintroducing Pygmy Hogs into Assam
  • Training for Tamarin Conservation
  • Alison Jolly Madagascar Scholarship
  • Durrell General Support
  • Durrell Field Programs
  • Durrell Conservation Academy

The work that American Friends of Durrell supports has been successfully carried out by Durrell itself over many years. Please have a look at the many project stories on the Durrell website www.durrell.org, and delve into The Durrell Index, the scientific proof that the Durrell approach to saving species and habitats really works www.durrell.org/index.

Durrell prides itself on evaluating the outcomes of its conservation actions and reporting them to its donors and the wider world. American Friends of Durrell receives these reports and, in turn, passes them on to donors as required. You can always track these projects or find summaries on the Durrell website.

To keep in touch with how Durrell is doing in its mission to save species from extinction, join Durrell on Facebook and subscribe to Durrell eNews.


Sir David Attenborough, famous around the world for his wildlife films, concluded his impassioned speech on the occasion of Durrell's 50th anniversary (2009) with the stirring words, "The worldwide importance of this institution is tremendous. May it go on for another fifty years, and more, because I do assure you that the world needs Durrell."

American Friends of Durrell appreciates each and every donation, no matter how large or small. It is only through the generosity of people like yourself that Durrell will be able to carry on its work to save species from extinction!

There are many other ways to help American Friends of Durrell, including gifts of securities and bequests in your estate plans. Please click here to discuss these and other options.


Please share your thoughts with us using the form below or write to us by email or by letter to Memphis.



Postal address:

American Friends of Durrell
4042 Goodlett Cove
Memphis, Tennessee 38111

Thank you in advance for your interest in American Friends of Durrell. We will be delighted to answer your questions and will get back to you as soon as we can.