Today is the 10th Anniversary of Endangered Species Day, and to highlight the growing importance of working on saving endangered species from extinction, Gladys Porter Zoo will ask visitors to imagine a world without Western lowland gorillas and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
“Let’s face it. If there were no more gorillas or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles left on our planet, that would be an awful situation to find ourselves in,” Zoo Director, Dr. Patrick Burchfield said. “Thankfully, we are not in that situation and in fact, we are in a position to do something about it. That is why today, we are asking our visitors to pause and consider what extinction looks and feels like in a collaborative effort to motivate and inspire them to join Gladys Porter Zoo and other accredited zoos and aquariums in our efforts to save animals from extinction.”
To bring awareness to the growing extinction crisis, the Gladys Porter Zoo is participating in a larger, national effort organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, of which Gladys Porter Zoo is a member. Specifically, the 229-accredited members of the AZA are coming together in a variety of ways to help the public consider what it would be like to not be able to see, learn from or connect with these incredible animals again. This is to raise awareness of the efforts to save animals from extinction and to help launch AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE).
For decades, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been leaders in species survival, and are already working to restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor and a variety of aquatic species.
Through SAFE, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will convene scientists and stakeholders globally to identify the factors threatening species, develop Conservation Action Plans, collect new resources and engage the public.
In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for the next 10 years. The inaugural 10 species include: African penguin, Asian elephants, Black rhinoceros, cheetah, gorilla, sea turtles, vaquita, sharks and rays, Western pond turtle and Whooping Crane.
“AZA aquarium and zoo conservationists have identified more than 100 species facing the greatest threats and where accredited zoos and aquariums have unique conservation and science knowledge to contribute,” Jim Maddy, AZA President and CEO, said. “Today, we’re demonstrating just how profound the loss would be if we don’t take action now to protect wildlife. More importantly, we are also explaining to the public just what AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are doing to save animals from extinction.”
Gladys Porter Zoo is involved with many conservation efforts including acting as administrator of the U.S. contingent of the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Binational Conservation program since 1981.
Public Asked to Help Save Animals from Extinction
One of the easiest conservation actions the public can take is to visit Gladys Porter Zoo. Doing so directly supports the collaborative efforts of hundreds of researchers, field conservationists and scientists from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums working to save animals from extinction.
For more information, visit www.azasavingspecies.org and follow the online conversation on May 15 via #savingspecies.