OKC ZOO: TAKE ACTION THIS ENDANGERED SPECIES DAY, EVERY DAY TO SAVE WILDLIFE, WILD PLACES
May 17, 2019
This Endangered Species Day, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the crisis facing wildlife and to take action. Following the release of a dramatic report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) President and CEO, Dan Ashe, released the following statement:
The conclusions in the United Nations’ IPBES Global Assessment are alarming, finding nearly one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. This conclusion, backed by a three-year study, is profoundly troubling news. AZA-accredited facilities are taking action to help save species and their habitat and invite the public to join us.
An AZA survey last spring found that people believe 100 animals are protected by the Endangered Species Act, when in fact 1,471 animals are included on the list. Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed were willing to help save animals from extinction. We know that people care and want to make a difference.
As the U.N. report outlines, we need to make major changes in our behaviors to protect wild animals and wild places. In 2017, AZA-accredited facilities contributed $220 million to conservation efforts directly benefitting animals and habitats in 128 countries around the globe. In addition to our field work, AZA members educate nearly 200 million guests per year about animals to foster a deeper understanding of the need to protect them.
Since 2015, AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® has challenged its members to do more to respond to the extinction crisis. Through SAFE, AZA members are focusing their collective expertise and leveraging their massive audiences to save over 20 species and taxonomic groups from extinction.
The U.N. report shows we do not have time to wait. AZA and its members are cultivating passionate advocates willing to take action for wildlife. From decreasing the use of single-use plastics to protect our waterways and oceans, to speaking up for legislation to promote sustainable fisheries and protect critical habitat, to ending the demand for illegally traded wildlife, and to springing into action and volunteering in your local community, join the AZA community and make a difference for the animals we both love and need.
As a conservation organization and home to many critically endangered species, and one species that is completely extinct in the wild – the Pere David’s deer – the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is committed to protecting wildlife and preserving wild places. The Zoo’s legacy began with a species in crisis. Donated in 1903, the OKC Zoo’s first animal was a white-tailed deer. It’s hard to believe now, but at the turn of the 20th century, white-tailed deer were near extinction. After connecting with this animal first-hand, community and state leaders raised awareness of their plight and advocated for measures to prevent overhunting, allowing deer to once again thrive in the wild.
Today, with support from ZOOfriends and Round Up for Conservation, the OKC Zoo supports 34 conservation projects in 20 nations across the world, helping species like African elephants, Indian rhinos, pygmy hippos and orangutans. Locally, the Zoo and its partners help protect the once common horned lizard, native birds, bats, monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Our conservation emergency fund sends trained animal experts to assist with large-scale animal rescue operations. In 2018, Zoo personnel flew to Madagascar to save more than 10,000 radiated tortoises seized from the illegal pet trade. This year, an expert bird caretaker assisted in a South African flamingo rescue operation after a severe drought caused parents to abandon their offspring.
The OKC Zoo’s membership in the AZA amplifies its conservation impact. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are leaders in the protection of threatened and endangered species. Through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction, the entire AZA-accredited community is focusing conservation science, wildlife expertise and our 195 million annual visitors on saving species in the wild. Together, AZA-accredited zoos contributed more than $220 million to field conservation in 2017 alone. The AZA Species Survival Plan program (SSP) is a cooperative animal management, breeding, and conservation effort that works to ensure genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of more than 500 species of animals in human care. The SSP program for the American burying beetle played a key role in the recent proposal to down-list that species’ from endangered to threatened – a move hailed by industry in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is a nationally ranked zoo and Oklahoma’s premier cultural destination connecting people and our world's vanishing wildlife and wild places. Its home to a variety of the world's most exotic animals including 49 endangered or critically endangered species; and more than 20 designated horticultural displays and collections including over 100 species native to Oklahoma. The OKC Zoo is a fully accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1982 and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums as both a living museum and botanical garden. Stay connected with the OKC Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. For more information about the Zoo, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and ten other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.