Photo Credit: IUCN

SOS proudly announces the generous support of Dr. Susan Mainka


SOS received a very generous donation from our former colleague Sue Mainka. Sue passed away at the beginning of 2012. We knew that, in her bequest, she asked for a donation of 100,000 Swiss francs to be made to SOS. It took some time to materialise but SOS is now in a position to meet the hopes that Sue has placed in us.


giant panda in Wolong Nature Reserve, China
Credits : IUCN Photo Library © IUCN / Sue Mainka

Many of you probably knew or heard of Sue. She was the Head of the IUCN Species Programme from 2000 to 2004. She hired me as her Deputy in 2001 and she guided me through the complex world of IUCN where I could always count on her support. It has been a privilege to work with her.

Sue’s most remarkable contribution to species conservation was probably her work on pandas. She was a veterinarian working in a Canadian zoo when WWF hired her to solve captive breeding problems in China which she did with remarkable success. WWF colleagues reported that she dedicated her first months to learn Chinese and teach English to her Chinese counterparts, which she believed was the first necessary step to incentivise the team.

To acknowledge her professional and personal contribution to the conservation community, IUCN invited people to post comments on the webpage A tribute to Dr Sue Mainka. Going through these comments will just give you an idea of the kind of person Sue was. She was also quite secretive and after working 4 years with her I was surprised to learn so much about her personal life, hobbies and friends by reading through these comments and speaking with others at the time of her funeral, who also knew her well.

The fact that Sue decided to make such a donation to SOS is a great recognition of our efforts. She was in an ideal position to witness what we were trying to do to support species conservation and, obviously, she considered that SOS was a valuable and unique mechanism worth supporting.

Besides pandas, Sue had a passion for numerous creatures in particular rhinos which are facing serious threats these days. We shall discuss with our advisory board how to better honour Sue’s memory and make the most of her generosity.


A great thank you to you Sue!



Jean-Christophe Vié, SOS Director.


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