Dr. Robert Davis Conveys the Important Role of Conservation at the Smithsonian Institute

As we assess the world around us, it’s obvious that humans depend on nature to survive. Yet in a role that has increasingly become more parasitic than symbiotic, humans are stripping the world of natural resources and beautiful animals at an increasingly faster rate than before. Just this past March, the world’s last male white rhino died, drawing the subspecies that much closer to extinction. This occurred in large part to hunting and poaching that so aggressively ravishes through wildlife. The male white rhino is just one example of how our careless relationship with nature is causing a detrimental chain reaction in the world around us.

Understanding the need for preservation of wildlife, the Smithsonian Institute has emerged to the forefront as one of the leaders in wildlife conservation. Researcher and former member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Ethics Board, Dr. Robert Davis, believes it’s important that these types of programs are highlighted. Dr. Robert Davis of Dubuque, Iowa is huge proponent of wildlife conservation. In fact, Dr. Bert Davis was the first African American to receive a Faculty Fellowship from the Smithsonian. Within this capacity, he pioneered the educational outreach program that brought zoological science education into the classroom.

Dr. Bert Davis’ history with the Smithsonian isn’t the only reason he believes so strongly in their role in conservation. Time and time again, the Smithsonian Institute’s conservation program has consistently held a high ranking for their work and education. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is the specific sector of the Smithsonian that deals with wildlife conservation. Through here, they play a leading role in the Institute’s global efforts to conserve wildlife, help struggling species to survive, and educate future generations of conservationists.

Founded in 1974, The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute has more than 20 species of animals that they breed and study, including species that were once extinct. Dr. Bert Davis notes that the Smithsonian’s major research initiatives are broken into five main areas of focus centers:

  • Conservation Ecology
  • Conservation and Sustainability
  • Conservation Genomics
  • Migratory Birds
  • Species Survival

Additionally, their role spans 250 scientists, students, and colleagues in over 25 countries, working on both land and ocean. Their work has helped bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction, contribute to the preservation of genetic diversity, and much more.


The Smithsonian Institute has achieved so much in the way of conservation. Dr. Bert Davis believes strongly in the work that they have done and is excited to see how they continue their conservation efforts in the future.





The Many Accomplishments of Dr. Robert Davis of Dubuque, Iowa

There are few people in this world who can say that they knew exactly what their career interests were when they were younger. Dr. Robert (Bert) Davis is one of them. From a very young age, Dr. Robert Davis, Dubuque, Iowa former resident, has held an interest in the many complexities and facets of life. His curiosity with science, interest in biology and the preservation of animal life was mostly realized while attending Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois. His parents also helped shape his “nerdy disposition” by insisting that he and his sister (Denise) devote several hours of every day to reading beyond their school work.  It was during his sophomore year in high school that Dr. Bert Davis of Dubuque decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. After graduating high school, he attended Tuskegee Institute (now University) where he completed his Bachelor of Science in 1983. In addition to his Bachelor degree, he also attended Tuskegee University for graduate school. He studied cytogenetics for two years before being accepted to the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. He completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1989.


Dr. Robert Davis’ educational background was only a precursor to the many wonderful things that he has been able to accomplish. Since finishing his studies, Dr. Bert Davis of Dubuque has amassed a number of high profile positions, awards, and accolades all relating to life sciences, animal welfare, education and conservation of endangered species. Dr. Robert Davis was previously President & CEO of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and the Dubuque County Historical. Prior to his position in Dubuque, Iowa, Dr. Robert Davis was the President & CEO of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. He held this position for an illustrious 11 years.


In 2001, Dr. Robert Davis was named the Vice President of Education for the Lincoln Park Zoo in his hometown of Chicago. Within this position, he collaborated with other education, academic, scientific, and conservation missioned organizations to promote education, fundraising, and leadership. Fundraising, leadership, strategic vision and application and grant procurement are major strengths of Dr. Robert Davis. In fact, his work with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee procured them the largest single family donation in the organization’s history, $6.7 million. This gift went towards exhibit renovations and a new Hippo exhibit.


Additionally, Dr. Robert Davis’s work with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee garnered a lot of attention and many awards. They were honored by the Better Business Bureau with the Torch Award for “Best Business Practices and Ethics”. Their education department was awarded with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Angela Peterson Diversity and Inclusion Award for their programs that are geared towards engaging disadvantaged youth in Milwaukee. Also, under his leadership the Conservation department won the AZA Conservation Award for their work with endangered bonobos from central Africa. In reference to his fundraising initiatives and awards for his work in Milwaukee and Dubuque, Iowa, Dr. Robert Davis said, “Successful organizations have powerful programs that enrich and engage lives through meaningful experiences, but let us not forget, all roads lead to money and that money supports all programs and experiences!”


Dr. Robert Davis of Dubuque currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with his wife, Nancy and their dog Sage. When he’s not educating our youth or fundraising, Dr. Robert Davis formerly of Dubuque can be found on the golf course or enjoying a good cigar with his favorite book.