The Association of Zoos & Aquariums, with its member aquariums and zoos and a variety of partners, are taking action to save species through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction. SAFE combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA members and partners, all focused on saving species. Our collective action will help save vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protect them for future generations.
Along the upper Texas coast, sea turtles frequent beaches to nest in April, May, and June every year. But sometimes sea turtles are in perilous situations that require immediate medical attention. Sea turtles have been found in the area that have swallowed fish hooks, are entangled in shoe laces, plastic bags, or other debris. The Sea Turtle Standing and Salvage Network, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and partners, is on call 24/7 and responds during all hours of the day and night. But rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles can take weeks, months, or even years and sound partnerships are the key to success. The Houston Zoo provides pro bono medical services, including surgery and other expensive procedures. The Houston Zoo Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Joe Flanagan, is always on call and conducts life-saving procedures at a facility in Galveston, Texas. The facility is especially overwhelmed during the winter months when cold-stunning events can occur. Cold-stunning occurs when sea turtles experience symptoms similar to hypothermia in humans due to long exposure to cold waters. Sea turtles can die from cold-stunning, and having Dr. Flanagan and the Houston Zoo staff such as Martha Parker able to assist the Galveston facility is crucial for saving sea turtles. For an interesting story on these key persons working hard to save sea turtles, see: Sea Turtle Superheroes.
Peter Thomas, International and Policy Program Director at Marine Mammal Commission, discussed concerns for the critically endangered vaquita marina in a recent interview with CCTV America. The interview focused on the impacts of illegal totoaba fishing in Mexico on the vaquita, and the steps that are being taken to help protect vaquitas in the wild. The Mexican government has issued a ban on gillnets, the biggest threat to the vaquita, and is beginning to use drones in an effort to catch poachers who continue to fish illegally. As totoaba fishing is driven largely by the Chinese market, this interview is particularly significant because CCTV has a global reach. CCTV is one of 42 TV channels produced and broadcast by China Central Television, the world’s largest broadcaster with a reach of more than 1.2 billion people. The channel can be seen in more than 85 million homes across more than 100 countries and territories. To see the full interview and learn more about threats and conservation efforts surrounding the vaquita, watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jVp-7vAwYE&feature=youtu.be.
Below are a few updates about the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program.
The criteria for qualifying a species as an SMSS is finalized and the Implementation Task Force (ITF) is working on identifying a few model SMSS species. The AZA Field Conservation Committee (FCC) has agreed to receive, review, and approve SMSS applications and is collaborating with the ITF to finalize the application and the approval processes which will be launched at the January 2017 Directors Policy Meeting.
We are very happy to announce that two new SAFE CAP Project Coordinators have been confirmed since our last update. Jim Wharton, Director of Conservation and Education at the Seattle Aquarium, will be one of the AZA SAFE Shark and Ray Conservation Action Plan Public Engagement Project Coordinators. Jim has over 20 years of experience with informal science education, program development and public awareness, as well as in shark and ray conservation and protection.
Beth Firchau, Director of Husbandry at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, will be the AZA SAFE Shark and Ray Conservation Action Plan SSP Sustainability Project Coordinator. Beth is the Marine Fishes TAG Chair and brings a deep set of knowledge and experience about SSP programs and their needs. Beth has over 20 years of experience in aquariums and has worked for many years on shark and ray conservation.
Learn more about the SAFE Signature Species: People have asked for a place where they can go to learn more about what is happening with the SAFE Signature Species and how they and their AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium can become directly involved in coordinating or collaborating on a SAFE CAP Project. To meet this need we have created species-specific SAFE Project webpages that identify critical actions to date and the project coordinators, collaborators and funders. To find out more visit: https://www.aza.org/safe-signature-species, select the species you’re interested in, and then select the “Conservation Projects” link in the right-hand column.
Two new tools have been created and are available for you to use. A SAFE 101 PowerPoint has been created and is available for you to brief your staff, your volunteers or your governing authority on SAFE. You can find it on the Governing Authorities Resource Center page: https://www.aza.org/governing-authorities-resource-center . In addition, a SAFE Frequently Asked Questions document has been developed. This is available in the SAFE community on the AZA network in the Resources area: http://network.aza.org/communities/community-home?CommunityKey=e6aa9f3b-6be8-4f6c-ace4-8fe2d296fc14 NOTE: You need to be logged in to the AZA Network to access the resources.
We want to thank the 47 AZA zoos, aquariums, and commercial members who have pledged nearly $2.7+ million over three years to the Founders Circle to provide the seed money for the science, planning, and public engagement strategies for SAFE. In particular, we thank our commercial members for their support including SSA, Miles River Direct, Schultz & Williams and Morey Consulting. We invite your participation in the Founders Circle to help us reach our $3 million goal. For information, please contact Gregg Hudson at email@example.com or Jill Nicoll at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember to Tag Your Posts with #SavingSpecies: Please use the #savingspecies hashtag. We are watching for your posts and sharing them with our followers. Let’s keep it up!
Join the AZA SAFE Community on the AZA Network: We utilize the AZA Network, posting updates and files available in the AZA SAFE community, which can be accessed here: http://network.aza.org/communities/community-home?CommunityKey=e6aa9f3b-6be8-4f6c-ace4-8fe2d296fc14 . Please note that you need to be logged in to the AZA Network to access these resources.
Upcoming Calendar: AZA, working with several AZA committees, will be providing materials related to Focus Days in 2016. Thank you for helping to make World Rhino Day a success!
December 4 – International Cheetah Day
The Palm Desert Patch reports: During La Gran Fiesta, The Living Desert will also be raising awareness of the plight of the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. Current estimates state there are fewer than 60 of these small porpoise left in the northern Gulf of California. The vaquitas’ major threat is entanglement in fishing gillnets. As a way to help save the vaquita, attendees at La Gran Fiesta are invited to take part in the inaugural vaquita parade. Guests are also encouraged to ‘adopt’ a vaquita to help support their recovery in the wild – adopters receive an adoption certificate, book, hat, and fact sheet – and all proceeds go to support the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) vaquita conservation action plan. Read more
Through exemplary collaboration, the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Seafood for the Future program and NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center developed Storied Seafood: Vaquita Conservation. Storied Seafood tells the story of the vaquita through the lens of a group of innovative fishermen from the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. These fishermen are working with global fishing experts, government and nongovernment organizations to develop and test non-entangling fishing gear. The new gear is expected to reduce fishery impacts on the critically endangered vaquita as well as other protected species in the region. Storied Seafood will also highlight various perspectives and efforts throughout the seafood supply chain to address specific ocean conservation issues associated with seafood. It will provide a platform from which to discuss, develop, and inform the public about collaborative solutions for healthy people and ocean ecosystems. You can learn more here: http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/seafoodfuture/storiedseafood
The vaquita, the smallest porpoise in the world, needs our help. In this KVOA/News 4 Tucson video, Reid Park Zoo’s Jed Dodds and Education Coordinator Jennifer discuss how the Zoo is helping the critically endangered species. Watch the video
From Metro News Calgary: Whooping cranes nearly vanished in the mid-1900s.
Since then, the population has stabilized with the help of the Calgary Zoo and several other conservation centres across North America. So much so, that they were honoured by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums with the North American Conservation Award.
But what is it that made the program so successful? Read more ...
KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon, reports: The Oregon Zoo just got an award for working to save an endangered species. The zoo has been working with Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle to save the Western pond turtle. Read more...
On August 12, 2016, Woodland Park Zoo staff and ZooCorps teens joined biologists and representatives from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at a protected recovery site to release 47 juvenile western pond turtles. The 47 turtles were collected from the wild as eggs and given a head start on life under the care of Woodland Park Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Once the turtles reach about 2 ounces—a suitable size to escape the mouths of invasive predatory bullfrogs—they are returned to the wild each summer and monitored by biologists.
In 1991, the project was established to help recover this endangered species, including initiating a head starting program. In 25 years, the “turtle team” has released >2,100 turtles—boosting the wild population from 150 turtles at two sites to >1,000 turtles at six sites. Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo have together invested more than $1 million in this long-term field conservation program.
For this upcoming head start season, 85 eggs were collected and delivered to Woodland Park Zoo, 72 of which are most likely fertile. To date, 55+ have hatched.
Enjoy this feature by Evening Magazine, a program that airs nightly Monday-Friday on Seattle’s top news station, KING 5.
And enjoy Woodland Park Zoo’s new video: https://youtu.be/AjCU0oXChG8
Wisconsin Public Radio reports: There's been a major change in Wisconsin's years-long experiment to help whooping cranes. Humans wearing crane costumes are no longer teaching young birds to fly behind ultra-light aircraft. Instead, crane chicks are mostly being raised by adult cranes, in hopes that years from now, the birds become better at reproducing in the wild. Read more ...