Press Release
USFWS honors director of conservation for Roger Williams Park Zoo with Recovery Champion Award
Louis Perrotti recognized for his dedication to the American burying beetle, and more

PROVIDENCE, R.I. —  Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service paid tribute to Louis Perrotti, director of conservation for the Roger Williams Park Zoo, during a celebration at the zoo honoring his dedication to conserving endangered and at-risk wildlife, particularly species that most people overlook.  

Perrotti received a Recovery Champion Award from the Service in 2020 for his work to advance recovery for the federally protected American burying beetle, a large invertebrate known for burying the carcasses of dead animals to provide food for its young. Over the past 25 years, Perrotti has established a captive-rearing program for American burying beetle at the zoo and worked with partners to release thousands of individual beetles on Nantucket to reestablish a  population of the species on the eastern edge its range. 

Louis Perrotti, director of conservation for the Roger Williams Park Zoo, received the 2020 Recovery Champion Award from acting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director Kyla Hastie

During the event, postponed two years in a row due the pandemic, local and national dignitaries shared remarks about Perrotti’s work for wildlife, and for people through his involvement in the Service’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in Providence and other outreach initiatives. 

“Lou Perrotti has been and continues to be an invaluable partner for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — his passion for conserving uncharismatic species and inspiring others to care about them is unmatched,” said Kyla Hastie, Acting Northeast Regional Director for the Service. “Wildlife needs more champions like Lou.”   

Perrotti’s dedication to the American burying beetle has earned him renown in the international conservation community.  

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the Service recognize Lou as a Recovery Champion,” said Roger Williams Park Zoo executive director Stacey Johnson. “His unwavering commitment to the protection and recovery of endangered species extends far beyond the American burying beetle.”  

From his work with the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in Panama, to conserving local timber rattlesnake populations, he has influenced conservation near and far. 

“We are grateful for the incredible impact he has made on the future of animal species across the globe, including by sharing his excitement with future generations,” Johnson said.  

Lou Perrotti took Service staff on a tour of the facilities after being named 2020 Recovery Champion

Perrotti has long considered outreach key to conservation success. After he shared the story of the American beetle with a local third-grade class in 2015, the students spearheaded a successful campaign to have the species named as the official state insect of Rhode Island. 

“I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues and presented with such a prestigious award. But this accolade belongs as much to the Zoo as it does to me,” Perrotti said. “Our vet staff, the keepers who take care of our animals, all our partners and NGOs that we collaborate with, deserve to share in it.” 

In addition to working to conserve the American burying beetle, Perrotti has captive reared New England cottontail, timber rattlesnake, and Karner blue butterfly — all species that are native to the Northeast and elusive by nature. 

“The Roger Williams Park Zoo is committed to saving wildlife and wild places,” he said. “I am happy to be a part of a team with whom we can make a difference and work towards making this planet a little better for the next generation.” 

American burying beetle

Story Tags

Captive breeding
Endangered and/or Threatened species