The ACRES Education Center and Auditorium will promote awareness about the wildlife trade, conservation, and a host of animal welfare issues.
More than 60 volunteers, including staff from the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane and members of the Vientiane Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts organizations, joined together on January 12 to help put the finishing touches on the new ACRES Education Center and Auditorium for the Lao Zoo and Wildlife Sanctuary in Ban Keun.
The ACRES Education Center and Auditorium will promote awareness about the wildlife trade, conservation, and a host of animal welfare issues. The center will feature exhibits on a variety of animal protection issues, while educational talks, skits and performances will be held in the auditorium. Construction of the Center was made possible by a $50,000 grant provided by the U.S. Embassy. The center will be managed by the Singapore-based animal welfare organization ACRES.
The center has been under construction since September 2012. During the event on Jan. 12, volunteers from the Embassy and from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts put some of the final touches on the facility to get it ready for its grand opening. Activities included painting the exterior of the Education Center and landscaping work in the yard around the Center. Some volunteers also helped assemble enrichment activities for the animals at the sanctuary.
When all the work was complete, U.S. Ambassador Karen Stewart, joined by Mr. Somok Norchalern, Director of Vientiane Province Office of Forestry Inspection, Mr Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES and Mr. Saneu Chounramanay, member of the Lao Zoo board, cut the ribbon to officially open the Education Center and Auditorium.
In her remarks following the ribbon cutting, Ambassador Stewart stressed the important role the Center will play in educating people about the importance of conservation, particularly against the growing problem of illegal wildlife trafficking. She also noted the strong support for environmental protection provided by the U.S. Embassy.
“I am proud that the U.S. Embassy has been able to actively contribute to the conservation of Laos’ environment and natural resources,” said Ambassador Stewart. “Since 2002, the United States has contributed more than seven million dollars to support conservation outreach, ecotourism, environmental protection, law enforcement and wildlife monitoring throughout Laos. This project is yet one more step,” she said, “toward the protection of Laos' biodiversity.”