Lemurs, Zebras, and Toads, Oh My!
This month the Association of Zoos and Aquariums announced the conservation highlights of the past year. Here are some of our favorite stories:
The Madagascar Fauna Group and the Duke Lemur Center hatched a plan to transplant zoo-born ruffed lemurs to the Betampona Natural Reserve in Madagascar. Three American zoos provided lemurs: Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, and the Los Angeles Zoo and the Santa Ana Zoo in California. Four offspring have already been recorded from the released lemurs.
The St. Louis Zoo has a neat outreach program in Kenya, the habitat of the threatened Grevy’s zebra. The zoo leads trips to Africa to educate local Kenyans about conservation of the largest of the three zebra species, currently endangered from poachers and competition with livestock. Local communities have already established conservation areas and elected people to act as zebra scouts to monitor the animal’s progress and collect data. The zoo also trains Kenyan teachers to educate children about the animal and its habitat.
We also give props to the Detroit Zoo for its Wyoming toad project. These two-inch amphibians are functionally extinct in the wild. The good folks in Detroit began raising them in 2005 and have since released more than 6,000 toads and tadpoles back into the wild. This year the first group of wild eggs was sited by scientists. Way to go for bringing this horned hopper back from the brink!
The Vancouver Island marmot is the most endangered animal in Canada, according to the AZA. Due to their success in breeding the rare marmots this year, Calgary Zoo landed a Conservation Endowment Fund from the association. Pups from the five litters in 2007 will soon be released into the wild wetlands of British Columbia.
Now you know that when you visit one of more than 200 AZA-accredited zoos, you’re patronizing an organization that’s truly dedicated to the well-being of the animals in its care. At IT, we’re pleased that zoos and aquariums are taking an active role in conservation.
Photos: Top, middle, Saint Louis Zoo; bottom, Rebecca Johnson
- Nat Geo Expeditions