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New York Zoological Society. Center for Field Biology and Conservation records

Identifier: 4062
The records of the Center for Field Biology and Conservation document the operation of the center from the New York Zoological Society’s New York headquarters, as well as research conducted internationally by George Schaller (coordinator of the Center), Thomas Struhsaker, and Roger Payne. Files include financial records, internal memos, external correspondence, grant proposals, research reports, and published articles. The Payne and Struhsaker series contain some material created prior to 1972, under the auspices of the Institute for Research in Animal Behavior. In addition to the three principal researchers, the collection also includes records authored by research assistants and other field biologists employed by the Center. With the exception of the last subseries in the Roger Payne series (a binder put together by Payne himself in 1982 to document his research and accessioned separately by the Archives), the records in this collection were maintained by Center administrator Allegra Hamer.


  • 1962 - 1982
  • Majority of material found within 1969 - 1979


Access Restrictions

Select items in this collection are restricted. Please contact the WCS Archives for more information.

Usage Restrictions

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3.3 linear feet (2 cartons, 2 Hollinger boxes)


Collection contains records produced by the Center for Field Biology and Conservation, a department of the New York Zoological Society, as well as some records produced by its predecessor institution, the Institute for Animal Research and Behavior. From 1972 to 1979, the Center was responsible for managing the field research and conservation activities of staff researchers Roger Payne, George Schaller, and Thomas Struhsaker and their assistants. The collection includes records concerning Payne’s research on whales in Patagonia, Bermuda, Hawaii, and Alaska, Struhsaker’s research on primates in the Kibale Forest and northern Columbia, and Schaller’s research on jaguars in Brazil and snow leopards in Pakistan and Nepal, as well as other large mammals in both regions.

Historical and Biographical Note

The New York Zoological Society (NYZS) established the Center for Field Biology and Conservation (CFBC) in 1972. It succeeded the Institute for Research in Animal Behavior (IRAB), which opened in 1966, absorbing the Department of Tropical Research. A joint effort between the New York Zoological Society and Rockefeller University, the Institute included both field researchers (expeditionary field studies) and lab scientists (experimentally-oriented studies). IRAB was the first non-governmental organization to employ a full-time field staff conducting long-term research. Chief field and behavioral studies conducted under IRAB's auspices included George Schaller’s studies of lions in the Serengeti, Thomas Struhsaker’s studies of primates in West Africa, and Roger Payne’s studies of whales. The growth of NYZS’s international wildlife conservation programs, which included IRAB and its later incarnations, was facilitated by William Conway, who became General Director of NYZS in 1966 while continuing to serve as Director of the Bronx Zoo. In 1972, IRAB was discontinued. The experimentally oriented component remained administered by Rockefeller University, while the Center for Field Biology and Conservation, focusing on field research and wildlife conservation worldwide, was established as an NYZS department, with George Schaller as Coordinator. Struhsaker and Payne continued their work with primates and whales, respectively, while Schaller studied several mammals in Asia and South America. In 1978, both Schaller and Payne were awarded the Knight of the Golden Ark, given by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. In 1979, the Center merged with the Department of Conservation (formed in 1973 to manage conservation grants to non-staff scientists) to form a new department, which by 1980 was named the Animal Research and Conservation Center. George Schaller became Director of Conservation, while Thomas Struhsaker and Roger Payne continued their research under the auspices of the new department. In 1985, the department was renamed Wildlife Conservation International. By 1992, Conservation had become a full-fledged division of NYZS, named International Conservation until 2007, when the name was changed to Global Conservation.

Roger Payne was born January 29, 1935 and studied at Harvard and Cornell Universities. He was an assistant professor of Biology at Rockefeller University and a research zoologist at the New York Zoological Society. After an early period studying bat echolocation and owl auditory localization, he became best known for the discovery of humpback whale song, a popular recording of which was released by Capitol Records. He also studied other aspects of humpback and right whale physiology and behavior in Bermuda, Hawaii, Argentina, Alaska, and Baja California and was involved in efforts to stop commercial whaling and establish whale sanctuaries. NYZS's Whale Fund was established in 1969 to promote his work and whale conservation. Payne’s wife, Katherine Payne, worked alongside and co-authored publications with him. His work was profiled in the 1975 television special, Magnificent Monsters of the Deep.

George Schaller, Coordinator of the Center and later Director of Conservation, was born in Berlin in 1933 and moved to the United States as a teen, where he studied at the University of Alaska and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1956, he joined Olaus and Mardie Murie on their NYZS-funded expedition to Alaska's Brooks Range; three years later, with NYZS funding, he conducted seminal field studies on the ecology and behavior of mountain gorillas in Central Africa. He joined NYZS as a staff member in 1966. His diverse field studies have also included lions in the Serengeti, blue sheep in the Himalayas, snow leopards in Pakistan and Nepal, marsh deer and jaguars in Brazil, pandas in China, and wildlife surveys in Tibet, Vietnam, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Laos. His many books include The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations (winner of the 1973 National Book Award for Sciences), Serengeti: A Kingdom of Predators in 1972, Mountain Monarchs: Wild Sheep and Goats of the Himalayas in 1977, and The Last Panda in 1992. Schaller’s efforts in panda conservation were documented in the National Geographic Society film Save the Panda in 1983.

Thomas Struhsaker received his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. He began studying primates in East Africa in 1962, before establishing a permanent research station in Kibale Forest, Uganda in 1970, where he studied primates (including five species of colobus and mangabey monkeys) through the mid-1980s. He published The Red Colobus Monkey in 1975. He also studied primate behavior in Zanzibar and Colombia and coordinated field work in the rain forests of Kenya and Cameroon. His research helped spur the establishment of a nature reserve in the Kibale Forest Government Reserve by the Ugandan Forest Department in 1980. Kibale Forest Station was transferred to Makerere University in 1987, with Struhsaker remaining as an advisor to the station. In the 1990s, Dr. Struhsaker joined the Evolutionary Anthropology department at Duke University, studying red colobus monkeys in Tanzania.


This collection is arranged in four series:
Series 1
General administration, 1970-1979
Subseries 1a
Correspondence, 1970-1978
Subseries 1b
Facilities, circa 1970s
Subseries 1c
Financial records, 1971-1979
Subseries 1d
Personnel, circa 1970s
Subseries 1e
Publications, circa 1970s
Series 2
Roger Payne, 1962-1982
Subseries 2a
Correspondence, 1972-1973, 1975-1978
Subseries 2b
Financial records, 1970-1975, 1979
Subseries 2c
Funding, 1971-1972, 1975-1978
Subseries 2d
Personnel, circa 1979
Subseries 2e
Writings, 1968-1982
Subseries 2f
Survey of work by R. Payne 1972-1982, 1962-1982
Series 3
George Schaller, 1974-1979
Subseries 3a
Correspondence, 1976-1978
Subseries 3b
Financial records, 1976-1979
Subseries 3c
Funding, 1975-1979
Subseries 3d
Personnel, 1974, 1976-1978
Subseries 3e
Writings, circa 1970s
Series 4
Thomas Struhsaker, 1969-1979
Subseries 4a
Correspondence, 1970-1979
Subseries 4b
Financial records, 1969-1979
Subseries 4c
Funding, 1969, 1972-1979
Subseries 4d
Personnel, 1975-1979
Subseries 4e
Writings, circa 1974, 1977
Subseries 4f
Writings by others, 1969-1977

Acquisition Information

Internal transfer, 1980 (Acc. 1980.163)

Internal transfer, 1998 (Acc. 1998.011)
Guide to the records of the Center for Field Biology and Conservation, 1962-1982 (bulk 1969-1979)
Finding aid prepared by Collection processed and finding aid created by Helen Schubert Fields, Simmons College MS Intern.
October 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Revision Statements

  • April 2018: Finding aid entered into ArchivesSpace by Sana Masood.

Repository Details

Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives Repository

WCS Library/Archives
2300 Southern Blvd
Bronx New York 10460 United States