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Wild Animals in Urban Spaces: How Cities Can Promote Wild Animal Welfare in the Built Environment

April 3, 11:00 am12:15 pm EDT


Cities are often thought of as distinctly human environments. Yet, a wide variety of wild animals continue to make their homes in and around dense urban areas. Experts increasingly accept that human, animal, and environmental health are intrinsically linked. In this vein, cities have the opportunity to consider how they can adapt their built infrastructure to promote the wellbeing of the human as well as nonhuman residents that share these spaces. 

This panel brings together experts in local policy, building sustainability, and wild animal welfare to discuss how cities and other local actors can shape their policies for land use and the built environment to better promote the welfare of wild animals. As part of the discussion, researchers from NYU present findings from a newly-released report that identifies promising policy options for cities to consider, ranging from bird-friendly building materials to green infrastructure design and prohibitions on gas leaf blowers.


Alexandra Silver, Director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare

Alexandra Silver was appointed director of the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare by Mayor Eric Adams in July 2022. Silver previously worked at Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), the city’s animal shelter provider, where she connected with other organizations, stakeholders, and elected officials, working to raise awareness about how all New Yorkers can make a difference for animals. She originally came to ACC as a volunteer, after working as a reporter at TIME. Passionate about animal welfare since childhood and a vegan since 2016, she shares her home with cats Lucas and Freddie Mercury, both adopted from ACC’s Manhattan center, as well as the occasional foster animal. Silver received her Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature from Princeton University.

Alisa White, Legal Fellow, Guarini Center

Alisa is a Legal Fellow at the Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law at New York University School of Law. She is a graduate of Yale Law School, Yale School of the Environment, and Dartmouth College. During law school, she co-founded Law Students for Climate Accountability. Her research on environmental law, policy, and economics has been published or is forthcoming in Ecology Law Quarterly, Environmental Law Reporter, Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Energy, and PLOS One.

Cecil Scheib, Chief Sustainability Officer, NYU Office of Sustainability

Cecil returned to NYU as Chief Sustainability Officer in 2018, after five years as Chief Program Officer at Urban Green Council and Managing Director of the Building Resiliency Task Force for the City of New York. As Director of Energy and Sustainability at NYU from 2007 to 2012, Cecil was intimately involved in guiding NYU towards environmental excellence, leading efforts related to the co-gen plant, the Green Grants Program, 30% emissions reductions, greater solid waste diversion rates, weaving sustainability into procurement, and drafting NYU’s Climate Action Plan.

Dr. Mal Graham, Strategy Director, Wild Animal Initiative

Mal is the strategy director at Wild Animal Initiative, a nonprofit working to accelerate science that helps wild animals. They have worked with animals in shelter, veterinary, farm, and zoo environments, but it wasn’t until pursuing a doctorate focused on gap-crossing in flying snakes that they realized how little we know about the welfare of wild animals. Now, Mal works on helping other scientists interested in studying wild animal welfare get into the field.

Jeff Sebo (moderator), Co-Director of the Wild Animal Welfare Program & Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, New York University


Read the full report

Read the highlights 



Watch the recording HERE



Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law at NYU School of Law
Wild Animal Welfare Program, New York University
Law, Ethics & Animals Program, Yale Law School

This event is made possible by the generous support of Marc Rindner.


April 3
11:00 am – 12:15 pm EDT
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Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law
NYU Wild Animal Welfare Program
Law, Ethics & Animals Program, Yale Law School


NYU School of Law, Furman Hall, Lester Pollack Colloquium Room
245 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012 United States
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