The White Oak Conservation Center
Howard split his time between the Gilman Paper Company’s offices in New York City and its private estate, White Oak in Yulee, Florida, situated a few miles downriver from the company’s Georgia mills. Acquired in 1938, the estate spanned over 7,000 acres and functioned as the company’s southern headquarters.
White Oak was already an epicenter of forest conservation, but Howard expanded it to also encompass his devotion to endangered animals. With the help of biologists and veterinarians, Howard built an extraordinary animal conservation project specializing in the captive breeding of endangered or threatened species in order to maintain their genetic viability. Howard populated the center with more than 500 endangered and exotic birds, mammals, and reptiles, including the Florida panther, the African cheetah, and the southern white rhino.
In 2013, the Trustees of the Howard Gilman Foundation sold White Oak to Mark and Kimbra Walter, who are as dedicated to conservation and wildlife as Howard was. The center remains one of the premier wildlife breeding, research, and training facilities in the world.