Climate Change and Wildlife
The effects of climate change are being felt by biodiversity in every region on Earth, as is evident through the disruption of animal seasonal migrations, feeding and breeding events, alterations of habitat ranges, decreases in ecosystem functionality, interruptions of food chains, and increases in the incidence of animal parasites and diseases. However, it's not too late to slow or even stop climate change! Read AZA’s position statement on climate change.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are concerned about species survival and dedicated to making positive changes for their conservation. More than 180 million visitors demonstrate their interest for wildlife and conservation by going to these facilities annually, and together we have the ability and power to do something meaningful that will mitigate how climate change is impacting animals, even those in your own backyard. The Climate Change Resource page will help you learn more about the scientific basis of climate change.
Polar bears have evolved for a life that includes – and relies on – sea ice to provide them access to their primary source of food: seals. However, arctic sea ice is rapidly diminishing due to a warming planet, and the summer season without sea ice has lengthened. The longer the season without sea ice, the longer polar bears are without access to seals. AZA, its Animal Programs, and its member zoos and aquariums are partnering with scientists, conservation organizations, and communities, to help make a difference for polar bears.
Educators at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums help guests understand the complexity of climate change while inspiring people to take action. AZA, its Conservation Education Committee, and several member zoos and aquariums have developed resources that link educators to the latest regional, national, and global climate science; provide examples of successful wildlife and climate change programming and activities; and assist them as they help guests make affective connections between wildlife and climate change. Tools are also available to facilitate implementation of community-level activities that reduce CO2 emissions. Learn more about climate change education programs and partners.
Greening Our Community
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are stewards of the natural resources utilized in their business operations, making them partners in efforts to protect their communities and wildlife around the world from the worst impacts of climate change. Learn what these facilities are already doing on-site and explore some of the many tools available so that both individuals and facilities can do more.
What Can You Do? Take Action!
Imagine how much we could accomplish if everyone joined this effort! It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort or even a financial investment. The most important thing you can do is to realize that YOU have the power to make a difference; conservation begins at home. Simple decisions made in the 5 main areas of your daily life can make a huge impact for animal conservation:
- Social - Decisions you make and examples you set through your personal and professional social interactions
- Home - The ways you conserve energy and reduce waste in your home
- Dining - The kinds of foods you eat and the distance these foods are transported
- Shopping - The things you buy and how you get them from the marketplace to your home
- Transportation - Choices you make regarding your day-to-day modes of transportation
By making the best decisions you can in some, or all, of these areas of your life each day, you too will be a part of the community that is working to save the animals we all care about!
Pole to Pole
The Pole to Pole Campaign was a joint effort between the zoo and aquarium associations of the United States (AZA) and Europe (EAZA) that ran from 2013-2015 to communicate climate change impacts on wildlife and inspired millions of visitors to take action to reduce these impacts each year.