In recognition of lifelong achievements in and contributions to field biology, the International Herpetological Symposium is pleased to bestow the Louie Porras Award. This award is presented to a speaker at the IHS annual meeting who has demonstrated that his or her work represents exceptional accomplishments in the field that benefit herpetological conservation.
2015 – Robin Moore, Ph.D.
2016 – Jeff Ettling, Ph.D.
2017 – Jeffrey Lemm
2018 – Maria Elena Barragon Paladines
About Louis “Louie” Porras Conservation Award
Louie Porras comes from the beautiful Costa Rican community of San Ramon, a site near cloud forest that is host to many species of reptiles and amphibians. From the moment he could walk, Porras was chasing all of them. His family relocated to the US when Louie was eight years old, and he again found himself in a herp paradise: the Florida of the 1950s. Back then, from the ‘Glades south, Florida was so alive with snakes that Porras literally supported his family by catching them. At the same time he honed his herpetocultural skills working for Charles P. “Bill” Chase, whose legendary animal compound was comparable to the world’s largest zoo.
During that time Porras made connections throughout the herpetological community, from inspired scientists to avid hobbyists and collectors. Every spare moment Louie was in the field, first in the south Florida environs, but later in Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean Islands. He became a student of the literature, acquiring and reading everything he could find on the subject of herpetology. This soon led to collaborations as well as solo publications that range from conservation to systematics and natural history. After his service with Bill Chase, Porras left to establish his own business, called The Shed. Louie has also held positions at the Houston Zoo and Hogle Park Zoo. Serving the research, zoo, and hobbyist communities, Louie expanded his activities. When his love for the Intermountain West led him to settle his family in Utah, he opened ZooHerp Inc.
Porras was one of the first herpetologists to take color photographs of reptiles and amphibians, and he has produced a body of work that has served in countless book and magazine articles. He also took a deep interest in the IHS, serving for years in various capacities and as president. During his tenure he established a journal, Herpetological Natural History, and the IHS hosted an international meeting in Costa Rica, featuring the late Roger Conant as keynote speaker. After closing ZooHerp Inc., he launched a magazine called Fauna, dedicated to promoting herps, invertebrates, and their habitats. He went on to found Eagle Mountain Publications, which has produced a series of herpetological books and earned him a reputation as a meticulous editor and fact checker. He has also launched the professional journal, Mesoamerican Herpetology, celebrating the species-rich region that lies between the US and South America and providing a much needed outlet for scholars and students of this faunal assemblage.