Larry Ellison recently stepped down as Oracle's CEO and may be spending the time completing the Conservation Center for Wildlife Care in San Jose, California. Ellison is a prominent philanthropist for wildlife conservation, but this may take the prize as the largest donation yet.
Oracle's billionaire chairman is looking to save local wildlife in Saratoga, California.
The San Jose Mecury News is reporting that the Larry Ellison Foundation's partnering with the Peninsula Humane Society to help create the Conservation Center for Wildlife Care. And unlike other conservation centers with breeding facilities, this one will focus on what PHS member Ken White considers the uncharismatic species.
In other words, you won't find an African lion or California condor breeding program here.
White believes "it's truly wonderful how people have committed to the condor, and if we came to see it go extinct it would be a very graphic, very philosophical thing." However, "if we saw the hummingbirds and the bees go extinct, then life for all would end." It's not a popularity contest for fundraising at the latest center but made for those creatures that keep the food chain going: the invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians.
While the program may not save the only 45 or so left metalmark butterflies native among the sandy dunes of Antioch, California, the future is bright for other species. Chris Nagano, chief of the endangered species division with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, admitted that conservation has reached a critical point in saving many of the helper invertebrates that pollenate the world.
"People from all over the world will be looking at this."
Expected to serve over 8,500 “patients” a year, there will an in-take area like Humane Society's Burlingame facility or the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center in East San Jose, as well areas to include the public and generate interest.
Repurposing 170 acres of an old, unused quarry, the idea is to work with what nature has offered and create a new footprint. The largest building is expected to be 60,000 square feet with an additional structures taking up to 20,000 square feet. While clean up required removal of trees, the center has replanted and created a better sanctuary area for the patients. A pre-existing pathway will house 50 rehabilitation enclosures, plus the breeding center.
Organic food will be grown on site in a greenhouse and atrium. And a caretaker will live on-site. Additionally, the center will provide a residence for guest lecturers, specialists, and researchers to live among their subject research.
Oracle's founder been rumored to be part of the Wildlife Center since at least February 2014. Inside Philanthropy noted then while the billionaire shut down the biomedical Ellison Medical Foundation, the Wildlife Center was already in the news and making rounds among donators, charities, and fellow philanthropists.
The impact of contributing to the world isn’t new to the tech company, either.
While Oracle’s contributions tend to stick to STEM research, like science, technology/engineering, and math, he has shown a deeper appreciation for wildlife conservation. That keen interest has seen Oracle contributing to the University of Washington‘s Center for Conservation Biology, which looks for solutions in stopping African elephant poaching—a project the CEO is very passionate about.
Ellison’s no stranger to animal conservation. Recently, the former CEO has also given locally, such as gifting the Burlingame facility $3 million to help build substantial and sustainable headquarters. And like Microsoft creator and philanthropist Bill Gates, the idea to mediate environmental and ecological damage created by humans seems to be at an all-time high for technology-based billionaires.
Forbes lists his net worth to be somewhere around $55 billion. That's a lot of money to help the world.
Ellison also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Joining him on the Board are Hollywood actors Sigourney Weaver, Christian Bale, and Andy Serkis, and many leaders of the conservation movement. Giving back to wildlife charities and conservation seems to be an important part of his personal outlook and philosophy.
So is it a surprise that Larry Ellison is a starting a wildlife center for underrepresented creatures? Not really. But it is a welcome addition to a movement looking to conserve what critical fauna is still alive and keep the ecosystem balanced.
White did not quote the amount the center’s property would cost but the Mercury News averaged at around $50 million. He did admit that the Conservation Center for Wildlife Care was only possible because of Ellison’s donation and commitment.
Noting the significance, he also discussed the lack of money for creatures without a lot of celebrity backing. “There's not enough money for any charitable causes, and there's even less for those involving animals. And among those causes, ones benefiting local wildlife are at the bottom."
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