Who We Are Passionate and leading-edge aviculturists and educators. One of the largest collections of birds in North America. Home to over 80 species, totaling 400 birds from around the world. A breeding facility focused on maintaining genetic diversity of rare and endangered species. An education center for the next generation of conservationists.
What We Do We educate visitors of all ages on the importance of wildlife conservation through hands-on experiences with our waterfowl, their wetlands habitat, and our conservation programs.
How We Do It We offer direct access to and engagement with our leading-edge aviculturists, captivating educators, stunning rare birds, and peaceful wetlands habitat.
Why We Do It To inspire all visitors to value and protect our planet and the biodiversity that lives here, because the future of human health and well-being depends on it.
Accessibility: Our work is important to all, so it should be available to all. We also strive to make the complexity of the natural world understood by even the youngest who visit us.
Community: We are equally committed to our Litchfield County community and our global conservation community. Both are core to our mission.
Collaboration: We depend on the help of volunteers, educators, staff, researchers, conservation partners, and donors to fulfill our purpose.
Wonder: We approach our work with curiosity, always marveling at the beauty and diversity of our natural world. It is this wonder that motivates us daily and that we strive to share with our visitors.
Believers: We believe in our work, in our team, and in our mission to ensure the survival of waterfowl, their wetland habitats, and the web of life.
Considered to be one of the twentieth century’s outstanding figures in ornithology and wildlife conservation, S. Dillon Ripley began building a collection of waterfowl in Litchfield, Connecticut when he was a teenager in the 1920's. After earning a PhD in Biology, he became a professor of Ornithology at Yale University and served as Director of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History. In 1964, Dillon became the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, leading the Institution through its period of greatest growth and expansion. He reinvigorated the Smithsonian, building numerous new museums including the National Air and Space Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Anacostia Community Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt and the Renwick Gallery, and developing the Smithsonian Magazine. Over his lifetime, Dillon authored numerous articles, fifteen books, and received honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985. As an avid aviculturist, Dillon Ripley is credited with being the first person to successfully propagate many threatened and endangered species in captivity, such as the Red-breasted goose, Nene goose, Emperor goose, and Laysan teal. Dillon and his wife, Mary Livingston Ripley, an entomologist, were partners in most activities and recognized the potential for their waterfowl collection and preserve to become a valuable conservation resource. In 1985, they donated much of their land to a non-profit foundation dedicated to waterfowl conservation, research, and education. Today Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy spans roughly 150 acres and includes a 16-acre network of fenced aviaries, ponds, and barns. Dillon and Mary's three daughters, in concert with the Ripley Board of Directors, continue to develop and expand their parents' original vision.
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