If it wasn’t for the tireless efforts of Zoos, Conservations Groups, Wildlife Sanctuaries and wealthy benefactors then the world's unique fauna would be in a worst place than it is today. These people with a passion for protection are helping save our planet's unique and diverse ecosystems and biological wonders. One of the most iconic campaigns of wildlife conservation is the Giant Panda which due to zoos conservation efforts can now be seen on nearly every continent on earth.
Why is this important?
Every living thing exists and compliments another in an ecosystem. When one is threatened or its numbers decline, then it impacts the entire environment surrounding it. We have seen this very clearly when an invasive species upsets the balance of an ecosystem and the repercussions can be dire. Like the Burmese Pythons playing havoc with the wetlands in Florida damaging the precious aquatic wonderland. Or the invasive Cane Toad introduced into Australia’s sugar cane industry devastating local tropical environs and is predicted to soon cover nearly half of the continent damaging all precious ecosystems.There are examples on every continent. These animals are on one end of the spectrum and often introduced with good intentions without repercussions becoming apparent for years or decades to come.
Those are the obvious examples. We are talking about the opposite end of the spectrum. The ones that aren’t so apparent at first glance, the ones that are affected by their delicate ecosystems being upset or overrun. The species on the brink of extinction due to the illegal wildlife trade, poachers, deforestation, habitat loss or water pollution. These species that are dying off daily without a peep. What about these animals, amphibians, insects and mammals? Will we even realise the repercussions in the next decade? Experts in the field and Zoos do, which is why Conservation and Breeding programs exist. Not only that, they are vital to many species survival.
There are three main types of Breeding Programs.
1. Programs being runen situ which means on site. These programs are run in the Zoos and their affiliates themselves, on site in a captive setting. Detailed studbooks are held on all species and shared with a global network of Zoos to maintain optimal health, genetic diversity and the best chance of survival of the species.
Hope is not lost. The World Association or Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has a Species Survival Plan (SSP) which is the only way certain species have not become extinct. A major benefit is that this also provides a backup of genetic diversity for small wild populations that otherwise may be in danger of in-breeding affecting the species survival. Like that of the Javanese Rhino which is no longer in the wild, the only remaining rhinos live in a sanctuary in Java, Indonesia. In-breeding is one of the major concerns according to researchers. The SSP is dedicated to ensuring species remain on this planet though protections within the zoo environments sustaining viable populations.
In Australasia, the Zoo Aquarium Association (ZAA) is the entity that covers the entire Australasian regions continents, islands and oceans. They have an Australasian Species Management Program working to ensure conservation of species. Including a breeding program to save the world’s first critically endangered fish. The Spotted Hand Fish a delightful and funny little fellow that ‘walks’ along the oceans floor on modified fins.
Now it would be horrible to lose such a unique little spotty friend but thanks to the Melbourne Aquarium and Seahorse World sharing information and implementing a breeding program this species will be reintroduced into the wild and save the species. Victory!
2. Re introduction: These type of breeding programs help wild populations maintain healthy biodiversity by reintroducing animals back into wild populations. Boosting their genetic diversity with new members of their species in peak health injects a new lifeblood into these populations and can be the difference to a population making it or not. Without this genetic diversity, inbreeding can increase problems both genetically and physically with many individual’s immunity dropping making them more susceptible to disease. This can have a devastating impact on a species chances of survival.
Individuals are usually captive bred or may also be rehabilitated individuals that have regained full health and are ready to be re-released back into the wild. Sometimes they join their existing pack, pride or parents and other times to increase diversity they are reintroduced to another area to integrate and strengthen that areas genetic diversity.
3. Conservation in-the-field within wild populations. These are programs run in the field on wild populations and Zoos help immensely with knowledge, education, veterinarian assistance to wild animals and helping with recovery efforts of the species. Studies of each species natural habitats and their unique ecosystems interacting with other species within that environment are carried out as well.
Education is a large part of these programs with exploration and critical research being conducted in the field in real time. Societies around the world help support these vital programs for the health of our planet, our animal friends and ourselves. National Geographic for example is constantly raising money to help our majestic endangered species like elephants, orangutans, lions and tigers.
Other conservationists are doing their bit as well. Huge world renowned organisations such as the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) have a global network working with local communities, sanctuaries and wildlife reserves for protection and conservation of species. Inspiring millions of people to act, donate and help conserve our planets diverse species.
Endanzoo Family is proud to support WWF's conservation efforts with the adopt-a-species program. The species currently adopted are: Orangutan and Polar Bear. Through WWF's adopt-a-species program, we hope to protect endangered species wildlife and their habitats. To learn about our project, please CLICK HERE.
Sustainability of wild populations of many species are boosted by and saved by the conservation programs of zoos globally. Breeding Programs, Reintroduction Programs and Field Conservation Programs are supporting, diversifying and even bringing species back from the brink of extinction. Without these programs, it would affect us on a global level.
Every continent has its own unique wildlife that needs our care. Education of experts in those environments ensure generations to come have the opportunity to see and experience these animals first hand and live. Imagine the difference between having a unique animal explained to you compared to actually seeing one live in a zoo or in its natural habitat.
For example. Just envision yourself trying to explain a Platypus! Mammals with beaks that lay eggs? A virtual chimera of contradiction put together in a hodgepodge way. Children will think you are conjuring these rare and illusive treasures from your imagination and laugh. But if they were to see one, gracefully swimming and playing in a stream then their heart would soar with joy at such a singularly unique creature.
This is why Zoos, Foundations, Societies and Organisations fight day in and day out for conservation of all species. Fortunately for us, they do. The conservation efforts of Zoos multiple programs increase the likelihood that you are never put in the awkward situation of having to describe a Platypus or some other unusual animal like an Echidna to future generations of your loved ones.
Instead, due to their efforts you can spend a lovely day walking in the sunshine and discover them for yourself.