Click here to learn more.
Zoos and aquariums are great places to get up close to wildlife from around the world, particularly species that you never would have seen otherwise. But these institutions do much more than give us a chance to ogle the animals. They are also playing a vital role in the conservation of our endangered and threatened species.
“Zoos’ roles in conservation extend well beyond our grounds,” says Dr. Lisa Faust, vice president of conservation and science at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. “Accredited zoos and aquariums in AZA [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] contributed some $160 million to conservation efforts in 130 countries, and thousands of zoo scientists are studying innumerable subjects that contribute to the greater understanding of wildlife.”
There are currently 221 accredited organizations in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. All of these are dedicated to being leaders in conservation.
Many AZA-accredited organizations work with national and international institutions on research projects. According to Dr. Faust, “Some of these take place under the auspices of Species Survival Programs (SSPs), which help manage the populations in zoos but also often include conservation components."
For example, the Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake SSP, working with between 15 to 20 other zoos to monitor threatened snakes and gather data that will help manage the species in the future.
At the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, staff members collaborate with the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds to share their expertise working with and breeding endangered African penguins. The aquarium has a colony of 28 penguins and is part of a collaborative breeding program through the AZA.
“Zoos need to work together and make sure breeding is cooperative to maintain the genetic integrity of the gene pool,” says Dr. Allison Alberts, chief conservation and research officer at San Diego Zoo Global. “Species survival programs are essential to being able to do one of the things zoos do best: maintain populations of animals that shrink in the wild.”
Two successful examples of this collaboration in San Diego include their California condor and giant panda programs. There were only 22 California condors by the late 1980s, but thanks to zoos taking in the birds and successfully breeding them, there are now over 400.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
A baby squirrel who fell 75 feet from her nest is being nursed back to health at a rehabilitation center in…
Jan Jeffries, Jr., was working at a miserable jobsite when he encountered a dog who would change his life forever.
With their adorable matching outfits, best friends Zoey and Jasper have quickly become the new darlings of the…
With Easter on our minds, we combed our database of rabbits names to find out the 10 most popular monikers of 2013.
Dentistry used to be the outcast of the veterinary world. Now many vets dedicate tons of time to oral care for…
Our friends at JeanKnowsCars.com reveal cars that are great for pet owners, from versatile minivans to rugged SUVs.
With Easter coming up this weekend, we jumped at the opportunity to celebrate the holiday's most iconic species.
The Abyssinian, who wears a beautiful ticked coat, is an intelligent and athletic feline who stays in constant…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.