Conservation History Leadership Jobs

Fun on the outside, serious about animals on the inside. Zoo Knoxville is committed to being part of the solution to save species from extinction, both locally and globally.

Zoo Knoxville works with other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) on a collective Species Survival Plan for all animals that live in AZA-accredited zoos in North America. Working together, we can maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population in zoos to ensure we don’t lose animals to extinction when wild populations are in peril.

Zoo Knoxville is also involved with conservation work in the field, with award-winning recognition for our efforts to save East Tennessee’s endangered bog turtle and ongoing research with native hellbender and mudpuppy salamanders. Our staff members travel to far-flung places like the Komodo Islands, Madagascar and Indonesia to study animals in their native habitats. Every guest that visits Zoo Knoxville also helps save wildlife and wild places.


Statement in support of Sustainable Palm Oil


The conservation organizations listed below are committed to driving the palm oil industry in the right direction, and support a move to sustainable palm oil and not a blanket boycott.


Palm oil produced according to the standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), as of 2018, is required to be deforestation-free. Manufacturers, retailers and traders all over the world have made bold commitments to removing deforestation from their supply chains – some are making swifter progress than others towards meeting these commitments.  There are no quick fixes, but the following actions will go a long way to cleaning up the palm oil industry:


  • Palm oil producers must stop converting forests, peatlands and other sensitive natural habitats to oil palm plantations. Instead, they should increase yields on existing plantations, and any expansion should be restricted to degraded land that is not classified as High Conservation Value or High Carbon Stock. They also need to be transparent about their production methods and avoid labour, land and human rights violations.
  • Companies manufacturing or selling products made with palm oil and its derivatives need to investigate their suppliers and only source palm oil from responsible growers, ensuring their supply chain is traceable, and communicating honestly with their customers about their progress on their journey to using solely sustainable palm oil.
  • We expect the RSPO and its members to adhere to the criteria and take action when there is evidence of non-compliance.
  • Consumers can support retailers and manufacturers which are committed to removing deforestation from their products, join social media campaigns to drive the industry in the right direction, and support conservation organisations who are working to break the link between palm oil and deforestation.


There is no denying that the rapid expansion of the palm oil industry over the last 30 years has had a catastrophic environmental and social impact across Southeast Asia, South America and Africa.  Consumers all over the world have been horrified to learn about the destructive practices rife within the industry, and the orangutan has become an emblem for the clash between development and conservation.


Boycotting palm oil is a legitimate expression of consumers’ social and environmental concerns, but the question we urge individuals and businesses to ask themselves is:


Will this action help wildlife, forests and communities?


The problem with a blanket boycott is that it punishes indiscriminately. It removes the market for palm oil from those companies which are making genuine efforts and progress towards sustainability, as well as those which aren’t. And if we remove the market for sustainable palm oil, we also remove the incentive for companies to abide by the better management practices which reduce the footprint of the industry – in terms of impacts on wildlife, forests, climate and human rights.


A blanket boycott of palm oil could lead to the following unintentional consequences:

  • More deforestation, not less

If the international market for palm oil disappears, palm oil companies and smallholder farmers alike could switch to producing an alternative crop. Oil palms are the most productive oil crop in the world, producing around 35% of global vegetable oil supplies on less than 10% of the total land under oil crops . A switch to another type of edible vegetable oil (such as soybean oil) would require up to nine times as much land to produce the same yield. This will increase natural habitat loss, species loss and other impacts.

  • Increasing demand

A blanket boycott of palm oil could drive the price of palm oil down. This could increase demand, especially in markets which have less interest in sustainability. This reduces the incentive to produce environmentally sustainable palm oil.


All agriculture has an impact: bananas, beef, cane sugar, chocolate, coconuts, coffee, pineapples, soybeans, tea and vanilla are all produced in previously forested tropical areas

With over 4.5 million people in Indonesia alone relying on the palm oil industry as their primary source of income, palm oil is here to stay. What we need to do is ensure that it is cultivated in the least damaging way possible. Oil palms do not need to be grown at the expense of forests and other sensitive natural habitats. Instead we need to break the link between development and the degradation of natural ecosystems.


The conservation organisations committed to driving the palm oil industry in the right direction, and support a move to sustainable palm oil and not a blanket boycott are:

Sumatran Orangutan Society

Orangutan Land Trust

Chester Zoo


Conservation International

World Land Trust

Jane Goodall Institute

Australia Borneo Futures

Yayasan Orangutan Sumatera Lestari

Global Canopy

Hutan KOCP

Borneo Nature Foundation

Earthworm Foundation

Zoological Society of London 


Orangutan Outreach

Global Environment Centre

Orangutan Veterinary Aid

Orangutan Conservancy

Danau Girang Field Centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Borneo Wildlife Preservation

Save Orangutans Now

Twycross Zoo

Save the Rhino International

WildCats Conservation Alliance

Borneo Rhino Alliance

Save the Orangutan

Lincoln Park Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Global Conservation Medicine

Houston Zoo

Copenhagen Zoo

The Living Rainforest

Beauval Nature

Naples Zoo

Zoos Victoria 

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Woodland Park Zoo

British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Wild Planet Trust

Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Dartmoor Zoological Society

Taronga Conservation Society

Australia Wellington Zoo

Auckland Zoo

National Marine Aquarium

The Deep

Bristol Zoological Society 

National Wildlife Federation

Forever Sabah

Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP)

Marwell Wildlife 

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Crocodiles of the World

Indianapolis Zoo

Toronto Zoo

Paradise Wildlife Park/Zoological Society of Hertfordshire

The Big Cat Sanctuary

Orana Wildlife Park

Detroit Zoological Society

Lubee Bat Conservancy

Perth Zoo

Oregon Zoo

Wildlife Conservation Network

Jenkinson’s Aquarium

Oklahoma City Zoo

Zoos South Australia

Columbus Zoo

Orangutan Republik Foundation Seratu Aatai

Borneo Child Aid

PM Haze

Tulsa Zoo

Kansas City Zoo

Little Rock Zoo

Blank Park Zoo 

Staten Island Zoo

Wild Welfare 

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Fondation Ensemble

Saint Louis Zoo

Ocean Conservation Trust

Malaysian Primatological Society

Aidenvironment Asia  

Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo Alameda

Wildlife Conservation Park 

Amici della Terra Onlus International

Elephant Foundation

Great Plains Zoo

Zoo Knoxville

Santa Barbara Zoo

Verify Humanity

Audubon Nature Institute

Zoo New England


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