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Our goal is the conservation of unknown endangered species

In the following, you can find out more about the organization and founding history of the ZGAP:

  • Founding History
  • Goals and statutes
  • Managing committee and advisory board
  • Working groups
  • Campaign ”Zoo Species of the Year”
  • Foundations
  • Partnerships
Your contact person

Dr. Jens-Ove Heckel

For telephone contact please get in touch with our office

Founding history of ZGAP

The primary goal of the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations  (Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz - ZGAP) is the conservation of unknown, but highly endangered species and their natural habitats.

While all over the globe people interested in nature are aware of the endangerment of species like the Mountain Gorilla, the Great Panda, or the Polar Bear, thousands of other species, often even unknown to experts, currently face the risk of extinction.

Even in recent decades, several sometimes large, species became extinct, unnoticed by the public - simply, because nearly nothing was known about them or because their fate did not get enough appeal and general approval in the media.

After the establishment of ZGAP in 1982, several exemplary species conservation programs with international co-operation partners have been initiated. A conservation program for the Visayan spotted deer (Rusa alfredi) and the Riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) as well as the formation of a sanctuary for illegally kept and confiscated primates were initiated and partly financed by ZGAP.

Another prominent example for a longtime project and pioneer work is the Spix's Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii). In the 1980th, ZGAP was one of the first conservation societies reporting on the dramatic situation of this species.

However, this introduction is just a small insight into the large number of projects currently under the patronage of ZGAP.

International and independent

ZGAP is characterized by its international focus and a scientific and holistic approach to the funding of conservation projects. Particularly important is the support of young scientists who are eager to implement/start conservation projects in their home countries. Integrating local biologists and students  and preparing them for project management on their own authority, is one of the basic principles of the society. Besides the cost-efficient realization of conservation projects, ZGAP thereby allows motivated young people to contribute to species conservation in their home countries. As a consequence, competent fellow local campaigners will be able to provide their knowledge and expertise to sustainable projects in the future.

The mentoring and control of these activities as well as the  biannual publication of our journal “ZGAP Mitteilungen” – which is also appreciated by specialists – is still mainly working in an honorary capacity.

As a result, we can guarantee very low management expenses and the maximum possible of our budget can be used directly for species and population conservation efforts in the field.

  • Our focus is on the protection of unknown, but highly endangered species

  • We aim at linking in- and ex situ- approaches (e.g. through the support of research projects, establishment of nature reserves, or set-up of breeding programs) 

  • We support the establishment and the sustainable operation of rehabilitation centers, e.g. in Cambodia, Indonesia, or in the Philippines

  • Thanks to a wide support through our members, we are financially independent

  • Our managing committee and advisory board work in an honorary capacity

  • We provide an open platform for professional exchange, networking, or international project work

  • We cooperate with IUCN, WAZA, EAZA, AZE, and other associations and action groups

Managing committee

The management committee is working in an honorary capacity and is resposible for the society's administration, public relations, project management, and finances. Every three years, it is elected by the ZGAP members.

Dr. Jens-Ove Heckel


Veterinarian, zoo director

Dr. Sven Hammer

Vice chairman
Project management

Veterinarian, zoo director

Dr. Thomas Kölpin

2nd Vice Chairman
Public relations

Biologist, zoo director

René Wüst


Merchant, publisher

Verena Kaspari

Member support

Biologist, zoo director

Our office at ZGAP

The ZGAP office is available on requests regarding your membership, project management, donations and project funding.

We also help with questions about the general assembly and our membership magazine "ZGAP-Mitteilungen".

Dr. Arne Schulze
Executive Director
Dr. Anke Kühne
Member Support & project administration
Angelika Hey
Financial Administration

Advisory board

The advisory board is made up of long-term members, former chairmen, and honorary members, who bring in their experience concerning practical aspects of species conservation and association management.       

By this means, the members of the advisory board make a decisive contribution to a professional and transparent work of the managing committee and the society.

Due to the ZGAP statute, the managing committee is empowered to appoint members to the advisory board to use their professional expertise for decision making, e.g. assessment of project applications.   

Our current members of the advisory board (alphabetic order):

Jörg Adler

ZGAP (Honorary member) & StA

Dr. Birgit Benzing

ZGAP & Uni Hannover

Dr. Florian Brandes


Dr. Marcellus Bürkle


Gunter Ehlers

ZGAP & Zoo Leipzig

Jannis Göttling

ZGAP & Zoo Osnabrück

Matthias Haase

ZGAP & Vogelpark Marlow

Jan-Uwe Heckel

ZGAP (Honorary member)

Bruno Hensel


Prof. Dr. Michael Lierz

ZGAP & Uni Gießen

Frank Oberwemmer


Prof. Theo Pagel

ZGAP, Zoo Köln, VdZ & WAZA

Johannes Pfleiderer

ZGAP & Zoo Leipzig

Dr. Martina Raffel


Prof. Dr. Matthias Reinschmidt

ZGAP & Zoo Karlsruhe

Dr. Martin Schaefer

ZGAP & Uni Freiburg

Walter Schulz

ZGAP (Honorary member)

Dr. Ralf Strewe


Dr. Birte Strobel

ZGAP & CVUA Karlsruhe

Marc Tetzlaff


Roland Wirth

ZGAP (Founder & Honorary member) & StA

ZGAP working groups

The activities of ZGAP for the conservation of species and populations is manifold - in terms of the range of species, the geopgraphic location, and the variety of the protective measures we support.

Over time, different non-independent but subject-specific working groups (WG) have been formed, consisting of specialized members with a focus on a specific animal group. The establishment and modus operandi of working groups and the contribution of members to its work is structureded by our internal regulations for working groups.

Should you have any questions concerning specific topics or regions, the contact persons of our working groups will be happy to help you.

Our campaign „Zoo Species of the Year“

In 2016, we initiated the campaign „Zoo Species of the Year“ together with the German Society for Animal Parks (Deutsche Tierparkgesellschaft) and the Communitiy of German Zoo Patronizers (Gemeinschaft Deutscher Zooförderer). Thanks to the exceptionally positive responses, we were able to establish „Zoo Species of the Year“ as an integral part of our activities.

With this campaign, ZGAP and its partners as well as participating zoos raise funding for local conservation projects

For the „Zoo Species oft he Year“, we set up a seperate website, that informs about current and past activities. There, we also provide further information on how you can support our campaign.

Foundations of ZGAP

The work of ZGAP is significantly supported by two non-independent foundations - the Hatta Gollwitzer Foundation and the Strunden Parrot Foundation.

Hatta Gollwitzer Foundation (HGS)

Purpose of the foundation, that was established by Hatta Gollwitzer in 2015, is the promotion of animal welfare, species conservation, nature conservancy, and environment protection, to preserve wildlife in preferably unaltered populations. This foundation goal is achieved through the funding of protective measures for endangered species and awareness campaigns (especially in the species' originating countries).

Strunden Parrot Foundation (SPS)

In 1998, our former member, Dr. Hans Strunden, established the SPS within ZGAP by making a conditional donation in the amount of 200,000 DM. In this context, he set up a trust-held, nonprofit foundation. Anually, 1/20 of the original endowment as well as the interest income are utilized for protective measures for critically endangered psittacine species.

Foto: ZGAP/Dr. Ursula Hellmann


The activities of ZGAP are manifold - this particularly concerns the range of species as well as the geographic location of our various projects. That is why a cooperation with like-minded partners is an important principle of our work.

Internationally, ZGAP collaborates with several organisations, e.g. IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature (national NGO member), WAZA - World Associaton of Zoos and Aquariums (associate member), EAZA - European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (associate member), AZE - Alliance for Zero Extinction (member).

In addition, ZGAP is a member of further societies, or has concluded formal cooperation agreements with several institutions to exploit synergies in particular fields of conservation work. 

These include the cooperation with the Association of Zoological Gardens (Verband der Zoologischen Gärten, VdZ), the Professional Associaton of Zoo Animal Keepers (Berufsverband der Zootierpfleger, BdZ), the German Society for Herpetology and Herpetoculture (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Herpetologie und Terraristik, DGHT), the Federation of German Aquarium and Terrarium Associations (Verband Deutscher Vereine für Aquarien und Terrarien, VDA) or the Foundation for Species Conservation of Karlsruhe Zoological Garden.

We also have rather loose connections with a variety of other conservation partners.