New York ,
Turtle Pond Publications and Scholastic, in partnership with Dr. Richard Leakey’s Wildlife Direct, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), today announced an integrated campaign to raise awareness about, and empower children to help save, Africa’s endangered mountain gorillas.
The campaign was born out of a commitment to action made at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative shortly after last summer’s tragic massacre of ten of the world’s remaining 700 mountain gorillas, of which, 380 live in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. It is a call to action that includes the publication of the children’s book, Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own
(Scholastic Press), and the creation of a multi-platform and standards-based educational initiative that will teach children, teachers and parents about the gorilla crisis.
Available in bookstores nationwide in September, Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own
tells the story of a baby female mountain gorilla, Miza, whose mother was one of the ten gorillas killed last summer. Miza was rescued by her father, Virunga’s legendary alpha-male silverback gorilla named Kabirizi, following the tragedy and was reunited with the rest of her family. Miza almost died, but thanks to the efforts of the Congolese Mountain Rangers and Kabirizi’s troop of 35 gorillas, she has thrived even without her mother. The book brings to light the gorillas’ struggle and underscores the sacrifice and heroism of the mountain rangers and their critical role in the survival of this endangered species.
The book was written by the authors of the #1 New York Times best-selling Owen & Mzee series, Craig Hatkoff and daughter Isabella (9), Dr. Paula Kahumbu and photographer/journalist Peter Greste. Hatkoff's older daughter Juliana (13) also collaborated on Looking for Miza.
“Miza’s true story is a life-affirming tale of hope and courage. Her dramatic rescue included not only her famous father Kabirizi, but also entailed the diligent efforts of the heroic Congolese Mountain Rangers,” said Craig Hatkoff. “Working with the Clinton Global Initiative, Dr. Leakey and Wildlife Direct and the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation has been a true privilege for our family. Through Miza, we can teach children early on that they have the power to help save the mountain gorillas. She is the ray of hope that will symbolize our commitment to preserving this extremely fragile species from extinction”
“We are thrilled to again be working with the Hatkoff family and Turtle Pond on this new project,” said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade Publishing. “The story of Miza is a stirring call to action and an inspiration to children and families around the world. Scholastic is proud to publish this compelling and powerful picture book.”
This will be the fourth inspiring nonfiction picture book written by the Hatkoffs and published by Scholastic about remarkable animals overcoming adversity. Their popular series of issues-based children’s books, including Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (2006), Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship (2007), and Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Changed the World (2007), introduces kids to real world issues and empowers them to effect change on our planet.
Along with the book, Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, will launch an in-school, standards-based educational initiative that will make elementary and middle school children, teachers and parents aware of the mountain gorilla crisis and the mission to save them. A specially developed curriculum and online portal produced by Scholastic will be distributed to approximately one million students to teach them about the gorillas, their habitat and the Mountain Rangers, and will empower them to become advocates for the gorillas.
In addition, www.Miza.com
, created jointly by Turtle Pond and Scholastic, will offer students up-to-date information on the gorillas brought from Wildlife Direct’s field-based blogs written by the Mountain Rangers and other activities and resources. Students will be encouraged to share ideas about helping the gorillas.
“Were it not for the daily reports from the rangers Innocent and Diddy on their Wildlife Direct blog, we would never have heard Miza’s extraordinary story or learned of the monumental challenges facing conservation of Gorillas in this part of Africa,” said Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Head of Conservation, Policy & Partnerships for Wildlife Direct and Looking for Miza Co-Author. “Miza’s story of courage and hope reminds us that everyone in the world, including children can help to ensure the survival of one of our closest living relatives, the mountain gorillas.”
“We are honored to be partners in the campaign to raise awareness about the effects of war and violence around the world,” said Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation CEO Donna Blackwell. “Miza’s story reminds us that we must take steps to protect those humans and animals that are most vulnerable and to strengthen our commitment to peace in the world.”
About Turtle Pond Publications
Turtle Pond Publications is a private entertainment and media company based in New York. Its interests include a variety of children's publishing ventures and other media investments including the Tribeca Film Festival; the company's principals, Craig Hatkoff and Jane Rosenthal, are co-founders of the festival along with Robert De Niro.
About The Clinton Global Initiative
CGI is a non-partisan project of the Clinton Foundation that brings together a community of global leaders to identify and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since inception in 2005, CGI members have made nearly 1,000 “Commitments to Action” to address poverty alleviation, climate change, global health, education, and other pressing issues, and improve over 200 million lives in more than 100 countries. The 2008 CGI Annual Meeting will take place in New York September 24-26, followed by CGI Asia, December 2-3 and the second annual CGI U next spring.
About Wildlife Direct
Wildlife Direct was started by Richard Leakey to create the world’s largest online conservation community and raise awareness and funds for conservation in some of the worlds most endangered and dangerous places. Operating deep in the jungles of eastern Congo, blogs written by rangers last year alerted the world to the crisis facing mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ranger Innocent and Ranger Diddy’s voices from the front lines of conservation on their Wildlife Direct blog provide a unique opportunity for anyone anywhere in the world to participate in the conservation of one of the world’s most charismatic and most endangered species: the mountain gorillas. Funds raised through the blogs have enabled the Congolese wildlife authority, the The Congolese Nature Conservation Institute (ICCN) to continue wildlife conservation activities on the ground despite the ongoing crisis. Wildlife Direct will use Miza to raise awareness and support for mountain gorillas throughout their ranges in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys. The Company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs and school-based book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, television networks and the Company’s Internet Site, www.scholastic.com
About Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation
The mission of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is to support and promote the creation of a culture of peace throughout the world. In the spirit of founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and in collaboration with the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre of South Africa, the foundation is dedicated to advancing reconciliation, peace-building, non-violence, conflict resolution, and ethical leadership so that all may live in a more peaceable and sustainable world.