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Citizen Conservation was founded in 2018 as a community initiative linking zoos, private breeders, and media professionals.

History and Background

The alarming increase in species extinction on our planet is a great challenge for humanity. Coordinated research and captive breeding are essential tools in halting this dangerous trend. We still don’t know enough about how species live together in different habitats to effectively protect them. That’s why learning more about key species is critically important. In places where we fail to conserve natural habitats, for some species the only chance at survival will be captive breeding. We are responsible for the future of life on earth.

Zoos, research institutions, and many committed private breeders are more dedicated than ever to species conservation. They are now joining forces within Citizen Conservation (CC) to counteract the extinction crisis.  

Project sponsor

Citizen Conservation was founded in 2018 as a joint initiative of Frogs & Friends, the Verband der Zoologischen Gärten VdZ and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Herpetologie und Terrarienkunde DGHT. The three supporting associations provide the basic funding and expertise for the implementation of a five-year pilot phase. 

Project partner

Citizen Conservation is open to all institutions and people who are committed to animal and species conservation and see the current wave of extinction as a challenge for society as a whole.

The following partners contribute financially to the development of Citizen Conservation: Deutsche Tierpark-Gesellschaft e.V.

The following partners support Citizen Conservation on a professional level: Zoo KölnTiergarten SchönbrunnZoo Schwerin, Museum für Naturkunde BerlinTiergarten NürnbergAllwetterzoo Münster. 

The following cooperation partners support Citizen Conservation with benefits for CC participants: Six feet to eat.

Organizational structure

Formally, Citizen Conservation is a Frogs & Friends project run by Frogs & Friends, VdZ, and DGHT. During the pilot phase (until 2022), we will build the foundation to turn Citizen Conservation into an independent and autonomous organization. This will allow us to expand Citizen Conservation’s geographical scope and content.


An expansion of Citizen Conservation’s content and geographical scope should follow the principle of subsidiarity, meaning all authority and decisions should take place at the lowest, most direct level. The organization itself should be in charge of communication, networking, and marketing. Separate groups of experts will be divided into clear regional units.

Steering committee and Citizen Conservation Office

Citizen Conservation’s business transactions are controlled by the steering committee and implemented by the Citizen Conservation office. The committee consists of a representative of each of the three partner organizations and the Citizen Conservation office manager. The Citizen Conservation office is located at Frogs & Friends in Berlin.

Citizen Conservation Office


Heiko Werning

Office Manager

Representatives of the partner organizations in the steering committee


Björn Encke

Executive Director of Frogs & Friends e.V.

Dr. Tim Schikora

Director of the Schwerin Zoo

Dr. Axel Kwet

Executive Director of DGHT e.V.

Advisory Board

The Citizen Conservation advisory board is a fixed organ of the project with its own rules of procedure. The board will help guide the development of the overall strategy, advise on several specific aspects (funding, law, marketing, science), and represent the organization in public. It is also responsible for the following tasks:

  • Defining the species portfolio and specific program objectives, setting veterinary regulations, categorizing CC species
  • Defining breeding recommendations, conditions of participation, and redistribution specifications for CC species

The advisory board consists of members of the steering committee and relevant experts. The following fields should be represented on the advisory board: zoology, ecology, veterinary medicine, marketing, herpetology. The advisory board is required to meet in person at least once a year. In between these meetings, decisions can also be made via email.

Members of the Advisory Board

PD Dr. Tobias Eisenberg
Veterinary specialist in microbiology, Head of Department for Bacteriological and Mycological Diagnostics
Gert Emmrich
President of Deutsche Tierpark-Gesellschaft e.V. (DTG)
Björn Encke
Executive Director Frogs & Friends e.V.
Matt Goetz
Curator at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust/Jersey
Dr. Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck
Director of Schönbrunn Zoo
Dr. Karl-Heinz Jungfer
Private Breeder
Dr. Axel Kwet
Executive Director of the German Society for Herpetology and Herpetoculture (DGHT)
Dr. Helmut Mägdefrau
Vice Director of Tiergarten Nürnberg
Dr. Joachim Nerz
Private Breeder
Dr. Johanna Rode-Margono
Executive Director of Stiftung Artenschutz
Christian Proy
Private Breeder
PD Dr. Mark-Oliver Rödel
Curator of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin/Leibniz Institut für Biodiversitätsdynamik
Dr. Tim Schikora
Director of Schwerin Zoo, Treasurer VdZ
Dr. Arne Schulze
Executive Director of the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP)
Dr. Philipp Wagner
Curator for species protection in Allwetterzoo Münster
Anton Weissenbacher
Curator of Schönbrunn Zoo
Heiko Werning
CC Office Manager

Expert advisory councils

The advisory board is supplemented by a number of expert advisory councils that offer advice and support CC on individual aspects, but do not have the same rules of procedure.


Maria Grotenhoff
Creative Director, Adesso Mobile
Volker Homes
Director of the Association of Zoological Gardens (VdZ)
Dr. Peter Janzen
AG Anuren, DGHT
Dr. Thomas Kölpin
Director of Wilhelma Stuttgart, DGHT-Consultant „Zoo“
Andreas Krauss
User Experience Consultant & Designer
Alexander Kühnen
Director of Marketing, Vertrieb und F&E, Carl Kühne KG
Marco Schulz
Treasurer DGHT
Oliver Witte
Legal Adviser
Prof. Dr. Thomas Ziegler
Curator Aquarium & Coordinaotr of Nature Conservation Projects at Cologne Zoo


Die laufenden Programme der Pilotphase fokussieren auf Amphibien. Gleichwohl ist es wichtig, parallel bereits die fachlichen Netzwerke für weitere Tiergruppen aufzubauen. Wenn Sie Interesse an einer Teilnahme an Citizen Conservation haben, würde wir uns über Ihre Kontaktaufnahme freuen.