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Monday, March 7, 2011

Reasons for hope

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

Mayor McGinn proclaimed March 7-11 “Woodland Park Zoo Field Conservation Week.” The proclamation ushers in a huge week for Woodland Park Zoo’s growing role in conservation as we host an international conservation conference and summit this week.

Nearly 250 zoo and aquarium conservationists, field biologists, wildlife agencies, and conservation organizations from 23 different countries and disciplines will come together for the biennial Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation (ZACC) conference. The conference brings together some of the most successful field conservationists to share knowledge and findings, build stronger conservation bridges between wildlife and local communities, and establish direct links to zoos, aquariums and their stakeholders.

The need for conservation solutions is more urgent than ever. On a global scale, the planet’s precious wildlife is facing the worst extinction crisis since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago. A landmark study launched last fall by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicated that one-fifth of the vertebrates studied (25,000) are threatened with extinction and cited 50 species of mammal, bird, and amphibian, on average, are being pushed closer to the edge of extinction.

Woodland Park Zoo has long recognized the need for zoos to be a part of the solution in preserving wildlife species and their habitats. Through our Partners for Wildlife program, we partner with 36 field projects in more than 50 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and the Pacific Northwest. We work globally and locally with our partners and inspire our visitors here to take action, giving us all solid reasons for hope that we can turn the tide of extinction.

Here are just a few examples of recent accomplishments by our partners that give us reason for hope:

Reason for hope: Ninety clans of indigenous Papua New Guinea villagers have joined with WPZ’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) to set aside more than 180,000 acres of their own land to create their nation’s first-ever Conservation Area. This protected rain forest habitat will be monitored by a community-based organization. TKCP is currently working to improve community health and build economic capacity in the villages.

Reason for hope: The Snow Leopard Trust worked with community partners to protect an area the size of Delaware from mining in the Tost Region of Mongolia. This local protected area registration gives the region protected status for the next seven years and protects the movement corridors of the beautiful, elusive snow leopard.

Reason for hope: The near-extinct population of western pond turtles in Washington state continues to crawl toward recovery. About 1,500 survive today and 2011 marks the milestone 20-year anniversary of the recovery project.

Reason for hope: The Amur Region government in Russia leased another 1,000 acres of land in the middle of crane habitats to Muraviovka Park, rather than a governmental agency that had applied for the land. In addition, the park has been exempted from 98% of land lease taxes.

Reason for hope: To date, more than a thousand university students and professionals representing 95 institutions in 14 countries have participated in the Global Field Training in Conservation Biology and Global Health program.

Reason for hope: The Tarangire Elephant Project in Tanzania has worked with tour operators and local communities to set up Conservation Easements on community lands, totaling nearly 60,000 acres protecting critical calving grounds for migratory wildlife.

Reason for hope: The Oregon spotted frog took a big leap last year with 1,300 endangered Oregon spotted frogs released in the wild.

These reasons for hope across the globe tell us one thing--there is still time for us all to make a difference. When you support Woodland Park Zoo, you support our conservation and education mission to save wildlife and wild places, inspiring people to learn, care and act. Together, we'll build a better future for wildlife.

Photos (from top): Banner: Oregon silverspot butterfly by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo, Tarangire Elephant Project by Mustafa Hassanali/Tarangire Elephant Project, Western pond turtle by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; Proclamation via City of Seattle; Forests of Papua New Guinea by Toby Ross/Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program; Collared wild snow leopard by Snow Leopard Trust; Western pond turtle hatchling by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; Red crowned crane by Igor Ishenko; Tangkoko field training group by Global Field Training in Conservation Biology; Tarangire Elephant Project by Mustafa Hassanali/Tarangire Elephant Project; Oregon spotted frog by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

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