Release Date: 10/06/2009

Ruth M. Elsey, M.D., is one of 29 animal conservationists nominated to receive the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation.

Representing the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Elsey serves as a vital link between the research community, the conservation world and the commercial world of alligator farms and international trade.

She was one of the originators of the Department's alligator management program, which has become an international model for conservation that enhances the survivability and sustainability of the American alligator and other crocodilians. Recently, Elsey received LDWF's Secretary's Award.

Elsey is a native of Livonia, Mich., and attended Broadmoor High School and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She attended medical school in New Orleans and completed a nephrology fellowship in Galveston before beginning full-time conservation work with the LDWF in the small community of Grand Chenier, La.

The Indianapolis Prize nominees' work spans the globe, representing a range of species from insects to mammals, and includes amphibians, elephants, bats, wolves and sharks, among many others. The Nominating Committee will review the applications and select the six finalists, who will be announced in the spring of 2010. The Prize Jury will then determine the winner who will be announced in mid-2010 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala, to be held Sept. 25, 2010, in Indianapolis.

In addition to receiving the $100,000 prize, the recipient is also awarded the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner's contributions to conserving some of the world's most threatened animals.

The 2008 Indianapolis Prize was awarded to legendary field biologist George Schaller, Ph.D. Schaller's accomplishments span decades and continents, bringing fresh focus to the plight of several endangered species - from tigers in India to gorillas in Rwanda - and inspiring others to join the crusade.

"Following in Schaller's footsteps will not be easy, but we believe the current nominees are exceptional," said Michael Crowther, CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, the organization responsible for initiating the conservation award. "These conservationists are all living an adventure that battles the odds, achieves great victories and builds a future worth living in."

The biennial $100,000 Indianapolis Prize represents the largest individual monetary award for animal conservation in the world and is given as an unrestricted gift to the chosen honoree.

The Indianapolis Prize was initiated by the Indianapolis Zoo as a significant component of its mission to inspire local and global communities and to celebrate, protect and preserve our natural world through conservation, education and research. This award brings the world's attention to the cause of animal conservation and the brave, talented and dedicated men and women who spend their lives saving the Earth's endangered animal species.

It was first awarded in 2006 to Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation and one of the world's great field biologists. In 2008, the Indianapolis Prize went to Dr. George Schaller, the world's preeminent field biologist and vice president of science and exploration for the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation has provided funding for the Indianapolis Prize since 2006.

Downloadable jpg images to accompany this story are available on the Indianapolis Prize micro Web site at: For more information, contact Judith L. Gagen at 317-630-2010 or