ABOVE: Whooping Crane. Courtesy National Audubon Society.
New Orleans, LA, USA (May 15, 2015) — Today is the 10th anniversary of Endangered Species Day, and to highlight the growing importance of working to save endangered species from extinction, Audubon Nature Institute will have endangered whooping cranes and African penguins “vanish” from their exhibits.
“This is a critically important time for the future of wildlife. Audubon Nature Institute works in partnership with programs around the world to boost numbers of disappearing species,” said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. “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 Audubon Nature Institute and other accredited zoos and aquariums in our efforts to save animals from extinction.”
The “vanishing animals” from Audubon Nature Institute are part of a larger, national effort organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, of which Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium are members. Specifically, the 229 accredited members of the AZA are coming together in a variety of ways 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 already are 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.”
Audubon Nature Institute is involved with conservation efforts including:
- African Penguin breeding program – As a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding facility, Audubon works to build genetically-diverse captive populations to ensure the survival of threatened or endangered species. Audubon has raised 51 penguins since opening in 1990. Audubon broke its record in 2013 with 11 chicks hatched in one year.
- Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center – works to boost dwindling populations of disappearing animal species. In large, minimally-developed enclosures, species such as sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, several species of endangered storks, clouded leopards, Mexican grey wolves, red wolves, bongo antelope and eland have lived and bred in seclusion.
- The Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP) – coordinated by Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, is the primary response partner for the state of Louisiana for rehabilitating marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles.
- Audubon whooping crane recovery program – critical research and animal care efforts that will help restore this endangered species to its native Louisiana.
- Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F) – works to assure the Gulf region’s seafood is sustainable and to provide leadership in the field of responsible management.
- Amur leopard – part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), Audubon has heralded the births of 12 leopard cubs since 1998. In addition to the efforts of our captive breeding program, Audubon Zoo has made financial contributions to aid in habitat protection and in situ research of this magnificent animal.
- Louisiana Pine Snake – Audubon is one of the most important participants in this SSP, consistently reproducing multiple clutches each year, several of which have been released into the wild. The Louisiana Pine Snake is considered to be the most endangered vertebrate in North America.
- Mississippi Gopher Frogs – Mississippi Gopher Frogs are generally considered extinct in Louisiana and are an endangered species in Mississippi. Audubon Zoo is one of only four zoos maintaining this critically endangered amphibian. In addition, Audubon Zoo has made financial contributions to aid in research and habitat protection.
- Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife (ASW) – the newest program to launch at the Survival Center, ASW is a partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global. This program will devise strategies to ensure sustainable populations of zoo animals as a haven for more than two dozen mammal and bird species that are declining in population.
Public Asked to Help Save Animals from Extinction
One of the easiest ways that the public can take part in conservation efforts is to visit Audubon Nature Institute attractions. 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 about SAFE, visit www.azaanimals.org/
To learn more about Audubon’s work to save animals from extinction, visit www.auduboninstitute.org/