SDRP staff includes (top row, in the tower) Jonathan Crossman, Dr. Katie McHugh; (middle row) Kim Bassos-Hull, Aaron Barleycorn, Dr. Krystan Wilkinson; (bottom row) Jason Allen, Dr. Randy Wells and Dr. Christina Toms, with interns Jessica Barrios, Leticia Megpali Estevão and Amy Cabeceiras. 

CZS’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program Earns Disney Conservation Hero Award

Award recognizes citizens for their commitment to save wildlife, protect habitats, and inspire conservation efforts.

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program recently earned a Disney Conservation Hero Award, recognizing local citizens for their commitment to save wildlife, protect habitats, and inspire conservation efforts.

Recipients from around the world were nominated by nonprofit environmental organizations. Each award-winner and their nominating organization will share a $1,500 award from the Disney Conservation Fund. The SDRP is operated by the Chicago Zoological Society.

The SDRP team was one of 20 award recipients globally.

“We feel immensely honored to be acknowledged for this important work,” SDRP co-founder and current director Dr. Randall Wells said. “A deep dedication to dolphin conservation is what powers our research, so this award is extremely encouraging to everyone involved. We look forward to the next 50 years of SDRP.”

In 1970, the SDRP team discovered that bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay reside in long-term local communities. The finding allowed the team to dedicate the next 50 years to conducting what has become the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. The study has expanded knowledge of dolphin behavior, social structure, health, ecology, communication, and the effects of human activities.

The team also helps to rescue entangled or injured dolphins and has trained more than 400 researchers and students from more than 30 countries in dolphin research and conservation techniques.

Disney Conservation  is committed to saving wildlife and building a global community inspired to work together to protect nature.  Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund  has directed more than $100 million to support nonprofit organizations working to save wildlife and inspire action. More than 200 Conservation Heroes have been honored for extraordinary efforts.

For more about Disney’s commitment to conservation and a complete list of recent Conservation Hero Award recipients, visit