PROFILE: Penelope Bodry-Sanders

Part of the Biodiversity Crisis Curriculum Collection.

On Mt. Mikeno in Congo (near Akeley's grave site). Photo courtesy of George Rowbottom.

When Broadway actress-singer Penelope Bodry-Sanders answered an advertisement calling for volunteers at the American Museum of Natural History, she did so only with the certainty that it was time for a change from the stage world of The Threepenny Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, and the New York Shakespeare Festival: “I have always been interested in anthropology and animal behavior, so it was not just a random chance to volunteer at the Museum.”

During her twenty years at the Museum, her experience was varied. She supervised and cared for bird colonies; preserved archival photographs, films, memorabilia, and other materials; curated a special exhibition on the history and accomplishments of the great explorer and collector Carl Akeley; and wrote Akeley’s biography. As Education coordinator for Discovery Tours, she designed and developed the educational component of the Museum’s travel program.

Inspired by Akeley’s vision and concerned about massive habitat destruction in Madagascar, she founded the Lower Primate Conservation Foundation. Dedicated to breeding and raising endangered lemurs in captivity, the foundation has purchased land in Myacca City, Florida and the reserve is now home to a colony of free-ranging lemurs that includes thirteenanimals of four different species. Says Bodry-Sanders, “ If each of us helps save a piece of the natural world, together we can accomplish a lot.”