Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 7, 2004
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis joins Texas Delegation in Ethiopia
Focus on securing Lucy archeological exhibit, open dialogue on economic development opportunities

AUSTIN--Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) has joined Secretary of State Geoff Connor on a delegation from the public and private sector to Ethiopia for an 8-day mission from April 3 through April 12. The delegation will focus its work on securing the Lucy archeological exhibit for exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

"Lucy," an almost complete skeleton estimated to be at least 3.2 million years old and is Ethiopia's world-acclaimed archeological find. It was discovered in 1974. Using scientific casts of Lucy and other major fossil finds from Africa and Europe, this exhibit traces the physical and cultural changes of human ancestors from 3 million years ago to about 20,000 years ago.

The mission to Ethiopia will also provide state and business leaders with an opportunity to explore future business opportunities. In 2003, Texas exports to Ethiopia totaled $73,483,082 and included crop production and processed foods, printing and related products, machinery and transportation equipment.

"At the top of our agenda is finalizing details for the Lucy archeological exhibit in North America. The Houston Museum of Natural Science would be the host museum and first North American stop for Lucy, the most complete australopithecine skeleton yet discovered and one of the most significant exhibits of the century," Secretary Connor said. "While the cultural importance of this exhibit cannot be overstated, there's a real economic benefit to bringing Lucy to Texas. The positive impact on the Houston and Texas economies by conservative estimates is $5 million to $7 million," Secretary Connor noted.

"The City of Houston will benefit enormously from the exhibition of the Lucy archeological exhibit. I am very proud of the City of Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science for being able to organize such an important exhibition," Senator Ellis said.

During the visit to Ethiopia Secretary Connor, Senator Ellis and others will meet with the President of Ethiopia, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Commissioner for Tourism, and members of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Secretary Connor and Senator Ellis, the Texas delegation includes Laurie Morian (Chairman of the Board, Houston Museum of Natural Science) and several other museum representatives, business leaders and Houston area university and city officials.

During the visit to Ethiopia, Senator Ellis celebrated his 50th birthday on April 7.