LEO Zoological Conservation Center
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LEO Zoological Conservation Center

The Lionshare Educational Organization (LEO) Zoological Conservation Center is an off -exhibit, nonprofit wildlife reserve and breeding facility in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut.


LEO Zoological Conservation Center is located on Lionshare Farm, a property of about 90 to 100 acres (36 to 40 ha) owned by Marcella and Peter Leone. Marcella Leone established the LEO Conservation Center in 2009 to house and breed threatened and endangered animals, particularly species at risk of extinction.[1]

As of July 2015, the facility housed about 50 species, including camels, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, giraffes, orangutans and other primates, and penguins.[1] Unlike a traditional zoo, it is not open to the public. However, "Private Safari Tours" can be arranged for an allotted minimum donation.[1] LEOZCC also hosts special visits for educational institutions. Conservation biologists say that breeding facilities, such as LEO, that do not exhibit animals play an important role in maintaining healthy populations of endangered animal species.[1]

In February 2013, the center announced the birth of an eastern mountain bongo, an antelope indigenous to Kenya that is close to extinction in the wild.[1][2] The following month, a Rothschild giraffe was born at the facility.[1][3][4] Photos and video of the baby giraffe, which belongs to a very endangered subspecies of giraffe, attracted extensive media attention.[1] The center announced a public contest to choose a name for the baby;[3] in response, over 6,000 suggestions were submitted on the center's website.[1][5] The winning name, Sandy Hope, was announced on the NBC Today show on April 1, 2013.[1]


Mission: To save the animals of today for the people of tomorrow

Philosophy: To share our animal world so that learning is a joyful experience, caring is a genuine concern, and acting on their behalf becomes a priority for us all. Learn...Care...Act

Vision: LEO Zoological Conservation Center will directly and indirectly increase the number of at risk animals saved throughout the world by becoming a global conservation leader, locally supported preservation center, and educational resource providing the most innovative, advanced knowledge, and practical experience to the world's current and future conservationists. [6]

Noteworthy Species Births

Adaeze and Odie Adaeze, meaning "daughter of a king" is one of 8 cubs born to Mona Lisa, the only king cheetah in North and South America. King Cheetah are extremely rare, and approximately only 30 remain in the wild. Recorded as the largest litter ever birthed, LEOZCC keepers realized the mother could not successfully raise all 8 cubs, and 3 were removed to be hand raised, 2 of which will be going back to Africa for reintroduction to spread their rare and diverse genes back into the wild.[7] Adaeze was raised alongside companion animal, Odie, an Australian Shepard, to become an "Animal Ambassador" for educational outreach and to spread the word on cheetah conservation.[8] The duo has travelled to many events including the Museum of Natural History Annual Family Party, Lion Country Safari in Florida, and the Today Show on NBC.[9]

Artie the Orangutan In the spring of 2014 the center welcomed baby Artie, the first ever orangutan born through artificial reproductive technology, to the LEO family. This success completed the first step of their Wild Cycling program, a term coined by founder and director Marcella Leone, which aims for the expansion of genes both in and out of zoological institutions and wild populations. The goal of the Wild Cycling program is to preserve, as well as increase genetic diversity within the species in order to promote a viable future Orangutan population.[10]

Rothschild's Giraffe With fewer than 700 individuals left in the wild, LEOZCC has welcomed several successful births for this endangered species.[11] The first Rothschild giraffe was born to the center in 2013, followed by massive media contest for its naming. The center was overwhelmed with suggestions and the name Sandy Hope, in dedication to the tragic 2012 elementary school shooting in Sandy Hook, CT. The center followed the naming by welcoming victims' families at the center for a day to interact with zoo animals.[12]

Giant Anteater In 2013, LEOZCC welcomed 2 giant anteater babies, 1 of them a true mystery. As male anteaters are known to commit infanticide (parental killing of a newborn), the father was removed from the enclosure right before the birth of the first baby. A few months later, keepers entered the enclosure to see not one, but two offspring![13] The gestation period of a giant anteater is around 6 months, meaning dam and sire had not been reunited for long enough to get pregnant and have another baby. While how the dam got pregnant again remains a mystery, speculations of through the fence breeding or the first recorded instance of delayed implantation in the species have been listed as possible conception methods.[14][15]

Fennec Fox & The Hound In 2011 a litter of 4 North African fennec foxes was born at the center. The vixen was unable to care for or nurse the newborns so LEOZCC came up with another option - a surrogate mother. Momma, a lactating American foxhound, was located at a North Carolina kill-center by LEOZCC and Adopt-a-Dog and taken to the center to care for the newborn foxes.[16] Momma and the 4 fox kits took to each other quickly. The success of this unique family rapidly spread through the media. LEOZCC ended up helping almost every dog in Adopt-a-Dog, CT. find a new home! [17][18]


LEOZCC has partnered with several local educational institutions [19] in order to promote conservation learning and efforts. Through these partnerships, students of all ages are able to interact up-close and personal with some of the world's rarest species.

Professor of Biology at Sacred Heart University, Jennifer Mattei remarked, "LEO ZCC, and its director, Marcella Leone, offer our students an extraordinary opportunity to learn how to study animal behavior and gain skills in developing field methods for behavioral observation and data collection in a more controlled setting."[20]

The Center is also able to bring their "Animal Ambassadors" to outreach events such as school assemblies, the Maritime Aquarium,[21][22] American Museum of Natural History member events,[23] Mount Sinai hospital,[24] the Woman's Club of Greenwich [25] and other zoological institutions.

Adaeze & Odie

Adaeze and Odie are becoming somewhat famous! Check out the articles (Linked Below) and their past and upcoming appearances!

Article - Greenwich Time

In the winter of 2014, Odie and Adaeze did several presentations at Lion Country Safari in Florida.

On Sunday, September 13, LEOZCC was selected as the charity of choice by the Greenwich Polo Club. The duo did a free presentation to educate the public on the plight of the cheetah. Check out the article! [26]

"Upcoming Events"

American Museum of Natural History Come see Adaeze and Odie at the annual Museum of Natural History Family Party on October 21, 2015 in New York City![27]

The Explorers Club Come celebrate CCF's 25th Anniversary with a VIP reception with Dr. Laurie Marker and the LEO Zoological Conservation Center's ambassador cheetah Adaeze. This is a special private fundraiser to support CCF's programs. VIP reception 6:00 - 7:00 PM VIP only - Ticket $225 VIP with dinner and lecture - Ticket $275 [28]

Visit The Center

A visit to LEO Zoological Conservation Center is a one-of-a-kind experience! [29] Hosted and guided tours will enable you to personally interact with the animals. Since the center is not like a typical zoo, it is not open to the public. LEOZCC's board has pre-determined the optimum number of human interactions its breeding center should receive in order to maintain a natural low impact atmosphere. These visits are split between free of charge Special Cause Groups, supporter visits, and Private Safari Tours. Joining the LEO Family and Private Safari Tours are offered at high donation levels, which provide a much-needed means of support for the conservation center and its programs. LEOZCC does not receive any state or federal funding.


The property was purchased in Connecticut in 1994 with the idea of building a state-of-the-art equestrian facility, and Lionshare Farm was born. This land, once a golf course, grew into a world-renowned show barn for horse and rider alike, aided by the reputation of Peter Leone, an Olympic Medalist.

With careful long range planning, Lionshare Educational Organization (LEO) was founded in 2009 to create a conservation center for animals. Its location on the 100 acre Lionshare property in Greenwich/Stamford, CT, makes it perfectly situated for what is essentially a wildlife preserve, as it is bordered by many acres of preserved land.

Over the years, the center has developed into a thriving organization. Structures have been dedicated to veterinary care, quarantine, acclimation, observation, and administration. Everything has been designed to enhance the health and well-being of the animals' bodies and minds. Even though "lion" is part of our name, ironically there are no lions at Lionshare Farm or the conservation center! The name comes from leone, meaning "lion" in several languages, which is the last name of Founder and Director Marcella Leone and her husband, Peter.[30]

Since founding LEO Zoological Conservation Center, Marcella has done more than just dedicate her life to wildlife conservation. Through education, internship programs, innovative conservation research, and partnering with "boots on the ground" organizations abroad, Marcella hopes to lay a groundwork for an ongoing legacy of conservation.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kristin Hussey (March 31, 2013). "Baby Giraffe Draws Attention to Sanctuary". New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Critically Endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo Born!". LEO Zoological Conservation Center. February 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Allison Terry (March 25, 2013). "Rare giraffe born at Connecticut refuge. It's a girl, and she needs a name". Christian Science Monitor. 
  4. ^ "Endangered Rothschild Giraffe". LEO Zoological Conservation Center. March 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  5. ^ Scott Stump (March 26, 2013). "Help name a rare baby giraffe born in Connecticut". Today.com (Today show website). 
  6. ^ www.LEOzoo.org http://leozoo.org/center/philosophy/. Retrieved .  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Greenwich cheetah cubs carry on rare genetic line". StamfordAdvocate. 
  8. ^ Best Friends. YouTube. 23 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Lion Country Safari Welcomes RareAnimal Ambassador in February 2015". lioncountrysafari.com. 
  10. ^ "First orangutan born through artificial insemination". aljazeera.com. 
  11. ^ "Giraffe born at non-profit Greenwich breeding reserve". Connecticut Post. 
  12. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/nyregion/baby-giraffe-brings-attention-to-connecticut-animal-sanctuary.html?_r=0
  13. ^ Dorrine Mendoza, CNN (17 May 2013). "Mystery anteater birth, no mate required". CNN. 
  14. ^ Carrie Arnold. "Anteater's Surprise Pregnancy: Virgin Birth Explained". nationalgeographic.com. 
  15. ^ "Immaculate Anteater Conception: Did A Miracle Occur At Connecticut Conservation Center?". International Science Times. 
  16. ^ "Foxhound, baby foxes coming to The Children's Museum". Connecticut weekly Newspaper covering local news including local sports, video and multimedia coverage, and classified advertising. 
  17. ^ http://www.greenwichtime.com/entertainment/slideshow/Dog-show-in-Greenwich-31065/photo-1625566.php
  18. ^ "Rescue dog nurses baby foxes". GreenwichTime. 
  19. ^ "GA Partners with LEO Zoological Conservation Center". greenwichacademy.org. 
  20. ^ "April: LEO Zoological Conservation Center Welcomes New Baby Giraffe - and SHU Students - Sacred Heart University Connecticut". sacredheart.edu. 
  21. ^ https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.465732960158584.111249.171054142959802&type=3&__fns&hash=Ac2j3g77uRdzIOUi
  22. ^ "Aquarium News » The Maritime Aquarium". zoochat.com. 
  23. ^ "Patrons, sponsors, supporters, friends, alumni and members". New York Social Diary. 
  24. ^ Mt. Sinai's children name endangered Fishing Cat born at LEO Zoological Conservation Center. YouTube. 17 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Marcella Leone of LEO - Presents at Woman's Club of Greenwich". Greenwich, Connecticut Patch. 
  26. ^ http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Center-staff-hope-cheetah-helps-remind-people-to-6499542.php
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved . 
  28. ^ http://cheetah.org/news-blog/
  29. ^ "Top 7 Best Greenwich Attractions to See". Stanton House Inn. 
  30. ^ http://leozoo.org/center/history/

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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