Did you know that June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month? Zoos and aquariums may have their issues, but at the end of the day, they do serve some very important purposes. A local vet lists some of them below.
Zoos are proving to be absolutely crucial for conservation efforts. There are now a whopping 16,306 species listed as endangered. Zoo-goers can see these animals in the flesh. That can really do a lot in terms of raising awareness and getting people onboard with promoting not only good animal welfare, but also habitat conservation.
Zoos and aquariums also often rehabilitate injured wild animals, and then release them back into the wild. This is also very important work! They often work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this area.
Protecting Endangered Species
One of the biggest success stories here is that of the California Condor. These birds came perilously close to extinction: by 1985, there were only nine of them left in the wild! A huge recovery effort was launched, with several zoos and animal protection agencies cooperating and participating. They bred and hand raised young condors, which were then released into the wild. Today, there are now more than 400 wild condors. That’s definitely a win!
One of the most wonderful things about zoos is the way they help raise awareness; not just about wild animals themselves, but also about the many issues they are facing. Things like loss of habitat, pollution, invasive species, and climate change can all have a devastating impact on delicate ecosystems and the wildlife they support.
Last but certainly not least, zoos and aquariums are able to offer a very special and rare opportunity to observe and interact with animals one would rarely, if ever, encounter in the wild. This can be particularly beneficial for kids. Taking your little ones to the zoo is not only a fun family activity, it’s also a great time to talk to them about our animal companions, and how important it is to be kind to them.
Choosing A Zoo
As with any other industries, zoos vary widely in terms of their ethics and aims. There are some truly wonderful ones out there, which are strongly committed to their residents. Unfortunately, there are also some that are more interested in profit than protection. Your best bet is to stick with ones that have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). (Note: the Great Plains Zoo is definitely worth a visit!)
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