International Day for Biological Diversity and Endangered Species Day
While extinction is a natural part of life, animals evolve and become extinct over time – the rate of species extinction is occurring between 100 and 1000 times more quickly than scientists expected. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened species reports that 28% of all assessed plants and animals (42,100 species) are threatened with extinction. With Endangered Species Day (May 19) and International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22) this month, ZAA members show us that zoos and aquariums are the beating heart of contemporary conservation efforts, which are intrinsic to all human life.
Moonlit Sanctuary 'Orange-bellied Parrot', Credit: Moonlit Sanctuary
In Australia, Moonlit Sanctuary’s orange-bellied parrot conservation work has contributed to recovery efforts for the species. Orange-bellied Parrots, as one of only three migratory parrot species in the world, had a Critically Endangered population of 17 adults in 2016. Through the construction of a captive facility that incorporates 20 breeding spaces and three flocking aviaries, as well as a "ranching" facility that was used to house birds over winter that were captured from the wild, they were able to contribute birds for juvenile release and increase survival of wild-hatched juveniles held in the ranch over winter. The Orange-bellied Parrot Tasmanian Program expects a total of over 140 orange-bellied parrots to depart Melaleuca after the 2022-23 breeding season and migrate to the mainland.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary have been working with the critically endangered Kroombit Tinkerfrog species since 2009. In 2018 they received wild frogs for captive breeding and have since been able to refine the husbandry of this species and breed well over 100 frogs, with many more eggs and tadpoles continuing to metamorphosise. Earlier this year, 24 captive bred Tinkerfrogs were released into the wild with further releases to occur when climatic conditions at Kroombit Tops National Park are suitable. The captive breeding program and future releases will continue to increase the size and resilience of the wildlife population and ultimately, Reverse the Red.
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In New Zealand, Butterfly Creek is home to the Giant Wetapunga, a native insect which, when full grown, can be heavier than a mouse or sparrow. In 2009, Butterfly Creek established the captive Rear and Release Programme, which for the first time ever, allowed this threatened species to be bred in captivity before being released into select habitats such as Tiritiri Matangi and Motuora Islands, Tawharanui and Shakespear Regional Parks. In 2017, Butterfly Creek also opened their Kiwi Forest, a native species exhibit precinct which includes a state-of-the-art nocturnal house for two Northern Brown Kiwi. This program has provided an excellent educational experience for visitors who not only have the opportunity to see kiwi but learn about the importance of safeguarding their future.
Every year, Auckland Zoo staff spend thousands of hours working out in the field across Aotearoa New Zealand contributing to critical research and threatened species recovery projects. This is in addition to the more than 5000 hours per year staff spend at the Zoo caring for threatened species as part of breed-for-release programmes - like those for kiwi, whio (blue duck), pāteke (brown teal), cobble skinks and wētāpunga. This integrated multi-disciplinary approach has resulted in highly skilled zookeepers contributing tangible benefits to threatened wildlife across New Zealand; more than 6,000 wētāpunga bred and released to the wild, the world’s first rearing and release of tara iti (NZ fairy tern), hundreds of hours managing takahē and kākāpō in the wild, and many more. The Zoo also supports conservation partners within Aotearoa and around the globe, and to date has contributed more than $4.3 million to more than 50 short and long-term conservation projects.
Following their inaugural event last year, the National Aquarium of New Zealand are running the Beautiful Bay in May initiative, which is working to educate and reconnect communities with nature. Their activity sheet, which has 31 activities that can be completed throughout the month, inspires people to watch out for native birds in their backyards, appreciate biodiverse flora and fauna and even grow a plant from a seed. Collaborating with Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay and connecting to many local business owners, communities can #bayinmay to win many prizes.
Download the activity sheet
The United Nations’ International Day for Biological Diversity is held on May 22 every year to promote issues related to biodiversity. With this year’s theme “From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity”, they aim to encourage efforts to advance the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
If you wish to promote the day on-site or online, then follow the link to the toolkit.