Shelly Cotterman Nashville Zoo

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1 Shelly Cotterman Nashville Zoo SAFE was just recently launched in May 2015 AZADV members are uniquely positioned in terms of enthusiasm and educational expertise The focus is on synergistic partnerships and community action 1

2 Across the 229 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, we have more wildlife care experts, more animals and a greater opportunity to engage the public than any other entity. We have three-quarters of a million animals representing 6,000 species, with close to 1,000 of them endangered in the wild. AZA-accredited institutions are already investing over $160 million annually towards field conservation to help save animals in the wild. Through SAFE, AZA and its members will convene scientists and stakeholders to identify the threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and engage the public. SAFE harnesses the collective power of all AZAaccredited zoos and aquariums and invites you to join the effort. 2

3 Participating in AZA SAFE will entail continuing the work already underway, but adding two crucial components: Field Conservation & Public Engagement AZA has identified 100 species facing the greatest threats AND where zoos and aquariums have unique conservation and science knowledge to contribute to saving these species. In 2015, AZA SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for at least the next decade. Create & Manage SAFE Conservation Action Plan Connect Partners Vision The Association of Zoos & Aquariums and its members envision a world where, as a result of the work of accredited zoos and aquariums, all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places. Identify AZA Strengths AZA SAFE Mission: AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction will combine the power of zoo & aquarium visitors with the resources & collective expertise of AZA members & partners to save animals from extinction.. Prioritize Animal Conservation Needs Vision Together we are saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. 3

4 We want zoo and aquarium visitors to learn about the exciting and important conservation work AZA accredited institutions do, to support the conservation efforts of their local AZA-accredited facility, and to take action to save wildlife and habitats. AZA s Conservation Education Committee identified both short-term and long-term education outcomes for SAFE. These include cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitude), and behavioral outcomes. Visitors recognize that through AZA SAFE, for the first time, the entire AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium community will focus our conservation science, our wildlife expertise and our 180 million visitors on saving species in the wild. Visitors understand that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are part of an integrated network of conservation partners. 4

5 Visitors value that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, working collectively, serve as conservation drivers in the effort to save animals from extinction. Visitors believe that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are conservation organizations. Visitors feel hopeful that animals can be saved from extinction Visitors commit to receiving additional educational information about conservation action. (e.g., sign up sheet on-site or on the institution s website) Visitors share what they have learned about SAFE. 5

6 In 2015, AZA SAFE will focus on 10 species: African penguins, Asian elephants, black rhinoceros, cheetahs, gorillas, sea turtles, sharks, vaquitas, Western pond turtles, and whooping crane. Document with all 100 SAFE candidate species on AZA website Details for each of the 10 focus animals on AZA website 6

7 The AZA African Penguin SSP manages > 800 African penguins among ~50 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. This subpopulation is genetically and demographically healthy. In Africa, the African penguin subpopulation is rapidly declining Guano collection & mortality from oil spills Little known about reintroduction success & feeding AZA SAFE Actions to Date: Stakeholder meeting AZA SAFE Conservation Action Plan Develop partnerships In the last 3 years alone, 20 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums contributed ~ $95,000 to African penguin conservation efforts. 7

8 Original range has shrunk from over 3 million square miles to 188,000. Scarcity and disconnectedness of suitable habitat Poaching In the last five years, the AZA community invested over $1.5 million in Asian elephant conservation, plus an additional $650,000 to support organizations such as the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) Once the most numerous rhinoceros species at an estimated 850,000 individuals, black rhino populations declined to 2,400 animals by the mid-1990s. Due to sustained conservation efforts, numbers of this species increased to almost 5,000 animals in 2010, though a massive resurgence in poaching in recent years threatens this species once again Poaching For over two decades, AZAaccredited institutions have provided financial support to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, through the American Association of Zoo Keepers Bowling for Rhinos program. 8

9 The cheetah has disappeared from 76% of its historic range Subpopulations of cheetahs have low levels of genetic diversity indicating inbreeding Less than half inhabiting protected areas and half inhabiting trans-boundary areas Political instability in ecologically important areas Lack of and poor land use planning Habitat loss and fragmentation Conflict with farmers and rancher. AZA SAFE Action to Date: AZA is helping to organize a meeting in Johannesburg in mid-august of AZA institutions provide financial support to field conservation partners like the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Several institutions directly supported CCF s Livestock Guarding Dog Program. Western lowland gorilla populations are estimated at approximately 125,000 animals, whereas only Cross River gorillas are found in their range Some studies demonstrate that G.gorilla declined >60% over a period of years To Western lowland and Cross River gorillas are poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, and the Ebola virus. Though ecotourism is an important component of mountain gorilla conservation, this subspecies is at risk of human-gorilla disease transmission Between 2010 and 2014, 48 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums reported taking part in a variety of field conservation projects benefiting gorillas. AZA institutions also provide financial support to field conservation partners such as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International 9

10 The five sea turtles species whose ranges include the North American coast are Kemp s Ridley, hawksbill, green, loggerhead, and leatherback sea turtles. All have experienced significant declines. The hawksbill turtle may have been reduced by 80% in the last century. Entanglement and incidental catch in fishing gear Coastal development and disturbance of nesting habitats In the past five years, 54 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums reported taking part in a variety of field conservation projects benefiting sea turtles. Over those five years alone, the AZA community invested over $14 million in sea turtle conservation. Much of this is in collaboration with federal and state departments. Sharks play a vital role in topdown maintenance of ocean ecosystems around the world. A global assessment of species diversity and abundance is lacking. The main threats to shark species are overfishing, incidental bycatch, habitat alteration/disruption/ disturbance, human-shark conflicts (i.e. bites, perceived as attacks), and climate change effects on critical habitat and prey populations. Over those the past five years, the AZA community invested over $2.7 million in shark conservation. Most projects were associated with population studies, conservation-related research projects, habitat protection, and visual marker tagging. 10

11 One of the most critically endangered cetaceans Has the most limited range - the northwestern corner of the Gulf of California, Mexico. Experts have suggested the population has been reduced to below 200 individuals with 10% declines each year Entanglement in gillnets, used for capturing fish and shrimp. Habitat alteration from the reduced flow of the Colorado River and water pollution Inbreeding depression Three AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums reported taking part in a variety of field conservation projects benefiting vaquitas. Over those five years, the AZA community invested over $50,000 in vaquita conservation. Found from the lowlands of Puget Sound, southward into the northwestern Baja California peninsula. The population in Washington was once near 150. However, conservation efforts have allowed this number to grow to between 1,200-1,500 individuals at six sites. AZA SAFE Action to Date: AZA organized a rangewide conservation workshop at the Oakland Zoo in March that brought in conservation experts from across the country. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation Competition & predation by nonnative species Projects were primarily associated with recovery efforts and often involved collaboration with academic institutions and agencies 11

12 The extant population represents less than 4% of its historic size. This migratory species now occurs as three distinct subpopulations in North America; two of these were reintroduced under the guidance of the USFWS. The only remaining natural population winters in a wildlife refuge in Texas and breeds in protected areas in Canada Over-harvesting, land use change in the species habitat, and disturbance by humans In 2012, AZA awarded a Conservation Grants Fund to International Crane Foundation to develop cellular technology that would improve monitoring of reintroduced whooping cranes Situate our institutions, animals, and visitors as part of a broader integrated conservation effort Project an attitude of hope and action Connect visitors to specific actions they can take 12

13 1. Share how your institution and the AZA at large is support research and conservation small stories make big connections 2. Position visitors as part of the hope and part of the global effort 3. Connect visitors with specific conservation actions that they can take 1. Find an entry point about the focus animal 2. Identify a unifying theme beyond that animal 3. Focus on animals at your institution whose conservation is connected to that theme 4. Connect visitors with specific conservation actions that they can take 13

14 What if you don t have Asian elephants Entry point: habitat loss and fragmentation Unifying theme: loss of forests to palm oil plantations Connected conservation: tiger, orangutan, Sumatran rhinoceros, sun bear, gibbons Specific action: Ways to avoid purchasing unsustainable palm oil (apps, games, information sheets) What if you don t have Vaquitas Entry point: bycatch in gillnets or habitat alternation Unifying theme: bycatch in non-selective gear or water use Connected conservation: (too numerous to list) Specific action: Ways to make smart seafood choices, participate in World Oceans Days event, conserve water 14

15 1. Visitors can articulate specific ways in which they can help save SAFE animals from extinction 2. Visitors can articulate specific ways in which their zoo or aquarium helps save SAFE animals from extinction 3. Visitors feel that they can have a role/ make a meaningful contribution to wildlife conservation 4. Visitors feel confident that species can be saved 5. Visitors will perform a conservation action recommended by SAFE What are you doing in your institution to support AZA SAFE? What new ideas do you have that you can share? What specific actions can we connect visitors with, particularly in regards to the 2015 focus animals? 15

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