According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the number of threatened or endangered species is pushing toward 25,000 globally! But just because those numbers are growing doesn’t mean the fight to save endangered species is over. In fact, lots of animal organizations are doing their part to help save animals and their wild habitats, and you can, too!
Plants, amphibians, birds, corals, arthropods, molluscs, fish, reptiles, mammals, worms, all the way down to tiny protists, have species that are endangered.
It’s not enough to save China’s cute giant pandas or the marvelous spatuletail hummingbirds in Peru. It’s an issue of maintaining BIODIVERSITY worldwide all the way down to that wash that runs behind your school.
Broadly, biodiversity is the variety of living things. While the number of species is a measure of the planet’s health, biodiversity also can refer to the number of different ecosystems in an area and even the genetic diversity within a species—all the different genes a species has.
Maintaining the genetic diversity of a species helps its chances of survival. Many zoos and aquariums participate in Special Survival Plans of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to not only increase a species’ numbers but also to maintain the genetic diversity of those populations through captive breeding programs. These plans also involve research, public education, and protecting and restoring HABITAT.
The leading causes of most species becoming threatened or endangered are habitat loss and loss of genetic diversity. Harmful human activity has hurt the survivability of thousands of species, while positive human activity could be the key to returning these populations back to good health. Here are just a few of the many things the Phoenix Zoo and Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park are doing to help.
Endangered Arizona Frog Needs Your Help!
As part of the AZA, and in cooperation with Arizona Game & Fish Department and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Phoenix Zoo has been involved in local, regional and international efforts to save and protect numerous wildlife species, including the amphibian population.
Because of high mortality rates in the wild of Chiricahua leopard frog eggs, and small tadpoles, captive head-starting provides a greater chance of survival for late-stage tadpoles or small frogs. In the wild, approximately five percent or less of the eggs in a mass survives to metamorphosis. In captivity, more than 90 percent of an egg mass survives to be released as froglets or late-stage tadpoles. By releasing a large number of animals back into a site, chances are greatly increased that more will survive to adulthood and reproduce, as well as preserving valuable genes.
The zoo’s primary contribution to southwestern amphibian conservation has been the head-starting of egg masses and developing and improving captive husbandry techniques. In addition to these contributions, zoo staff has also participated in population surveys, habitat renovation and restoration, and given presentations to educate the public about the plight of amphibians both locally and globally.
The zoo’s head-start program, dedicated to raising native frogs for release to supplement wild populations, is housed in The Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Conservation Center. At the Johnson Center, you have the ability to see the leopard frog colonies and the zoo staff as they work with them.
Our “head-start planning cycle” begins prior to the start of the field season. At that time, priorities for the specific populations to be reared are made. Once the breeding season begins, volunteers and state and federal biologists monitor donor sites for breeding and spawning activity. Once an egg mass is found, the zoo is notified and prepares for its arrival. Whole or partial egg masses are transported to the zoo where they are set up in a tank to hatch. The tadpoles are then raised by zoo staff until they become large tadpoles or small metamorphs, at which time they are released back into the wild.
Ways You Can Help the Chiricahua Leopard Frog
• Help preserve wetland habitat for amphibians by reducing your water usage. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth saves thousands of gallons yearly. Think of other ways to conserve!
• Participate in habitat improvement projects as a volunteer with the AGFD.
• Learn about what it takes for amphibians to survive in their habitat.
Helping Animals that Live Beneath the Waves!
In response to record levels of sea lion pups washing ashore along the California coastline since early 2015, Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park has named The Marine Mammal Center one of many recipients of its annual Animal Care & Conservation Awards. The Marine Mammal Center (MMC) (marinemammalcenter.org) in Sausalito, CA is one of the largest marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, and return organizations authorized by the federal government to respond to stranding crises.
In a typical year, peak stranding months occur in May and June when yearlings are weaned and on their own.
“Through this award, we offer our support to those on the front lines of this unprecedented stranding event who are working 24/7 along our West Coast to save starving sea lions,” says Wildlife World Director Mickey Ollson.
The reason for the strandings appears to be linked to the inability of nursing females to locate adequate prey such as sardines due to unusually warm ocean currents off California. Females normally leave their growing pups in rookeries for a few days at a time as they forage at sea and REPLENISH energy stores
necessary to produce milk. Experts believe the lack of nearby prey is increasing the time females remain away, which then drives immature and underweight pups to search for food sooner than normal.
The oceans cover 71 percent of our planet. They are home to tens of thousands of marine species, provide food for animals and humans, regulate our climate and so much more. Every year, millions of tons of plastic and other forms of marine debris end up in our oceans and cause serious problems.
Dolphins, whales, sea turtles, fish and other animals mistake trash for food and eat it. They become entangled or trapped in marine debris, which can lead to devastating injuries and death.
These animals need your help!
The extreme threat of marine debris with its
devastating effects on marine life has been recognized by governments and environmental organizations around the world.
What Can You Do?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!!!
• Cut the loop of rubber bands and six-pack rings before disposing of them
• Organize or join clean-up activities in your area
• Post, tweet, and share daily messages about marine debris, conservation, marine life and your efforts to help! Let’s go viral and spread the messages around
• Be Part of the Global Effort
in cleaning up our oceans.
Working Together, we can make a difference!
Over the past two decades, Wildlife World has contributed tens of thousands of dollars, as well as thousands more as in-kind support and staff expertise, to dozens of local, national and international organizations working on solutions for habitat restoration and wildlife conservation all over the globe. These financial awards were created to recognize worthy efforts in field conservation, public display and education, and basic research designed to preserve our planet and inspire future generations to care about wildlife and wild places.