Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Team Owner Buys Preserve; L.A. Dodgers' Mark Walter Says He'll Continue the Mission of White Oak

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Team Owner Buys Preserve; L.A. Dodgers' Mark Walter Says He'll Continue the Mission of White Oak

Article excerpt

The billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his wife have purchased the White Oak Plantation and conservation center and plan to continue operating it as a wildlife preserve.

Mark and Kimbra Walter bought the 7,400-acre property outside Yulee from the Howard Gilman Foundation, according to a news release. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The Gilman Foundation put the center on the market last April. The Walters began looking at White Oak late last year, the release said.

Mark Walter is the CEO of Guggenheim Capital, a Chicago-based financial firm that manages more than $170 billion in assets and has about 2,200 employees worldwide. He and an ownership group that includes former NBA star Magic Johnson bought the Dodgers last year for $2.15 billion.

Walter had an estimated net worth last year of about $1.3 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"We are honored to be the new stewards of White Oak and its unique and valuable conservation programs, which Howard Gilman initiated and his staff so ably managed," Walter said in a statement.

"Our primary mission is to build upon the work already under way at White Oak to create an international model for the humane and effective breeding and repopulation of endangered species.

"We also envision White Oak as a gathering point to inspire ideas and collaborations among individuals and organizations interested not only in conservation but issues such as environmental sustainability, land stewardship, arts and education."

Founded in 1982 by the late paper magnate Howard Gilman, White Oak houses about 200 animals of more than 20 species - many endangered or threatened - among them cheetah, Florida panther, okapi and black and white rhino.

Gilman turned over ownership of White Oak to his foundation before his death in 1998.

"The Walter family shares many of the perspectives on wildlife conservation and the performing arts that Mr. …

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