Conservation Snapshots

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AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums serve as conservation centers that are concerned about ecosystem health, take responsibility for species survival, contribute to research, conservation, and education, and provide society the opportunity to develop personal connections with the animals in their care.

Since 1991, the AZA Conservation Endowment Fund, which supports the cooperative conservation-related scientific and educational initiatives of AZA, its members, and its collaborators, has provided almost $5 million to 280 conservation projects worldwide. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums spend nearly $70 million per year on conservation initiatives. In the last five years they have funded over 3,700 research, conservation, and education projects in more than 100 countries.

AZA and its Conservation Education Committee have created an abundance of educational information to raise awareness and promote conservation about issues causing declines in species survival and ecosystem health. Conservation snapshots provide a brief overview of how AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums contribute to the recovery of threatened or endangered species of the following taxa:

Amphibians

Amphibians, frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians, are cold-blooded vertebrate animals that lay eggs in the water and the young are water-breathing until they reach adulthood and become air-breathing. Most amphibians have four limbs, although caecilians typically have none. Amphibians serve as valuable indicators of ecological declines and the recent amphibian crisis indicates that there has been a dramatic decline in amphibian populations around the globe due to factors such as infectious diseases and man-made influences such as habitat encroachment, pollution, and climate disruption.  

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Birds

Birds are warm-blooded vertebrate animals that are covered in feathers, lay eggs, typically in a nest and incubated by parents who provide an extended period of care after hatching. All birds have wings, most can fly, some migrate long distances each year, and some cannot fly at all such as ratites and penguins. There are approximately 10,000 species of birds which range in size from the smallest bee hummingbird to the largest ostrich. Birds communicate using visual signals and through calls and songs. They often cooperate together for flocking and sometimes hunting behaviors. Infectious diseases and man-made influences such as habitat encroachment, pollution, climate disruption have cause many species to become threatened or endangered. 

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Fish

Fish are typically, but not always, cold-blooded (ectothermic) vertebrate animals that live in water, are usually covered with scales, and equipped with two sets of paired fins and several unpaired fins. Depending on the species, fish live in fresh, brackish or salt water and can be found at all depths including the ocean floor. Fish are an important food source for humans and they can be harvested from the wild or raised in aquaculture fisheries. Fish populations are threatened by infectious diseases, overfishing, pollution, and climate disruption.

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Mammals

Mammals are warm-blooded (endothermic) vertebrate animals that typically give birth to live young, although five platypus and echidnas species lay eggs (monotremes). There are approximately 5,400 species of mammals which range in size from the smallest 30–40-mm (1.2–1.6 in) bumblebee bat to the largest 33-m (110 ft) blue whale. Many mammal species populations are threatened by infectious diseases and man-made influences such as habitat loss, pollution, and climate disruption. 

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Invertebrates

Invertebrates are typically cold-blooded (ectothermic) animals that do not have vertebral columns. Approximately 95% of all animals are invertebrates which are composed of over 30 phyla. These include simple organisms such as sea sponges, starfish and flatworms to complex animals such as insects, spiders, crabs, and mollusks. Threats to invertebrates including habitat loss, infectious diseases, introduced species, climate disruption, and pollution are rapidly driving many species towards extinction. 

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Reptiles

Reptiles are cold-blooded (ectothermic) vertebrate animals that are covered in scales or scutes, and typically lay eggs. There are approximately 8,225 species of reptiles including crocodiles, gavials, caimans, alligators, tuatara, lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Reptiles range in size from the smallest 1.6 cm (0.6 in) tiny gecko to the largest 6 m (20 ft) saltwater crocodile. Factors such as habitat loss, infectious diseases, introduced species, and pollution, and climate disruption threaten many reptile species with extinction.

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