Celebrate Endangered Species Day
Friday, May 17, 2013
Hope, not gloom and doom, should be the message for wildlife around the world
Zoo Atlanta is home to some of the world’s rarest mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians. More than 60 of the animal species housed at the Zoo are classified as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near-threatened. These include the eastern bongo, which numbers fewer than 500 in the wild; the Sumatran tiger, fewer than 400; the Aruba Island rattlesnake, fewer than 250; the Guatemalan beaded lizard, fewer than 200; and the Bali mynah, believed to number in the teens and already considered by some experts to be functionally extinct.
“We’re here to share these animals with our Members and guests, but we’re also here to help and to spread the word about the realities facing endangered species,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “It’s hard to put things more simply than this: If we don’t do something now, it will be within our lifetimes that many of these animals exist only in zoos.”
Zoo Atlanta is an active participant in conservation programs in Africa, Asia and North and South America and continues to exhibit global leadership in captive breeding programs for a number of critically endangered and endangered species. A recent success is the hatching of five Guatemalan beaded lizards in spring 2013; Zoo Atlanta houses the world’s only zoological collection of these rare lizards outside the wild.
Many of the species at Zoo Atlanta are already on red alert, according to experts. Sumatran orangutans are expected to be extinct within a decade without targeted conservation efforts, and eastern black rhinos could be headed on the same path as their cousins, western black rhinos, which were recently declared extinct.
“We want our Members, guests and supporters to know that these messages don’t have to be messages of gloom and doom. They can and should be messages of hope,” King said. “Supporting Zoo Atlanta ensures that we can continue to do the great work we do here, so that 10, 20 or 30 years from now, these animals will still be here for our children and grandchildren to appreciate.”
Friends inspired by particular animal species are encouraged to sponsor an animal through the Zoo’s Rare Care program. Rare Care sponsorships are available for a variety of species; visit www.zooatlanta.org/rarecare to learn more.