Effect of zoos for species protection proven / Endangered animals have a chance through human care
(Berlin) - The effect of modern zoological gardens on the protection of species has been proven once again. As the World Conservation Union IUCN recently announced, the threat to ten species on the so-called Red List has recently been downgraded. These includes the Guam Rail: a few years ago, this small flightless bird from the Pacific island of the same name had already become extinct in the wild. By breeding in zoos, it was possible to successfully reintroduce a wild population to a neighboring island after a 35-year breeding program. Thus, the rail is only the second bird species that has been able to recover from the threat status "extinct in the wild" - after the Californian Condor, which is also preserved by human care. "Of course, the IUCN report encourages us in our actions," says Volker Homes, Managing Director of the Association of Zoological Gardens (VdZ). "For us, this means that nature can recover if we give it the chance to do so by joining forces.
The status of the Mauritius parakeet has also recently improved: IUCN has downgraded it from "highly endangered" to "endangered" due to the fact that there are again around 750 specimens in the wild; just a few years ago the parrot had even been classified as "endangered". As a member of the VdZ, Loro Parque on Tenerife has also been successful in its efforts to preserve the species.
"The successful reintroduction of an endangered species is a tremendous success for the species protection of internationally networked zoos," says VdZ Managing Director Volker Homes. "It is the climax and reward for the cost-intensive, decade-long work of our scientifically managed institutions. Time and again, zoos and animal parks had already contributed in the past to saving endangered or even already extinct species. These include the David's deer, which is currently considered extinct in the wild, but is being saved from disappearance in the VdZ zoos in Berlin, Hodenhagen and Herberstein. Another example is the scimitar-horned oryx, which is also classified as extinct in the wild, but is cared for in the VdZ zoos in Berlin, Darmstadt, Hodenhagen, Karlsruhe, Krefeld, Leipzig and Stuttgart.
"In view of the sad fact that the threat status of ten species on the Red List has improved, but at the same time 73 species had to be classified worse than before, the importance of modern zoos is increasing," says Volker Homes. "Our contribution to the preservation of biodiversity is irreplaceable. In many cases, we protect the last specimens of their species and - if it makes sense - we bring them back into the wild".
The Red List has been published since 1962 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It lists animal and plant species threatened with extinction. It is regarded as an expert report on which governments, authorities and non-governmental organizations base their efforts to protect the environment and species.
Source and contact address:
Verband der Zoologischen Gärten (VdZ) e.V. - (Association of Zoological Gardens)
Sebastian Scholze, Leiter, Kommunikation
Schiffbauerdamm 40, 10117 Berlin
Telefon: (030) 206 53 90 0, Fax: (030) 206 53 90 29