John is presently leading the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in managing a strategic conservation program that will help advance their current partnerships and forge new alliances for the benefit of wildlife and wild places. The zoo is supporting John’s involvement in managing the Okapi Conservation Project in DR Congo and his leadership roles with partner organizations such as the International Rhino Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Network.
For 6 years, John was the resident curator for the New York Zoological Society’s Rare Animal Survival Center on St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia. After getting to know paper magnate Howard Gilman during a safari to Africa in 1980, he became White Oak Plantation’s first director of conservation in 1982. For 30 years John led the development of White Oak Conservation Center into a base of conservation efforts for threatened and endangered species that are part of breeding, research, training and re-introduction programs involving biologists, researchers and students from around the world.
John’s holistic approach to wildlife conservation is espoused by his involvement in field
conservation programs around the world. He is president and founder of the Okapi Conservation Project in the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo which since 1987 works to protect the wild population of okapi through the support of wildlife rangers and assisting local communities to become better stewards of their natural resources. John Lukas is a founding member and the president of the International Rhino Foundation, which operates and funds in situ protection and research studies for all five species of rhinos. He is also a founding member and vice-president of the Wildlife Conservation Network, which provides operating funds and technical support for entrepreneurial conservationists working on the front lines of wildlife field programs. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Anna Mertz Rhino Trust which funds on the ground protection of rhinos in Africa and Asia. John is an advisor to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center which is rehabilitating orphaned endangered Grauer’s gorillas in DR Congo. He is chairman of the board of the South East Zoo Alliance for Conservation and Research which provides research support to many zoos and aquariums around the US.