Why zoos matter: Educate and take action!
Why DO zoos matter? Why is it important, not only for humans, but also for the animals, to continue to have zoos? Over the decades, zoos have shifted from just showing off exotic animals to scientific institutions geared toward conservation and education. These types of facilities do not have “animals on display,” but rather animal ambassadors to advocate for the conservation of their wild counterparts. Many animals in zoos are there to serve as assurance populations, due to dwindling wild populations. This means that if the numbers in the wild decline so low that a healthy wild population is not possible, there will be members of that species that could potentially be re-introduced into the wild when conditions are favorable to support a healthy population.
An example of this is the golden lion tamarin. These small primates are native to the Atlantic coastal forest of Brazil. Destruction of their wild habitat caused their wild populations to shrink drastically. In the 1970s, their wild populations were under 200. With the help of several zoos and aquariums, breeding programs and assurance populations were set up. Through collaboration on a Species Survival Plan®, many of these zoo-reared individuals have been able to be released into the wild. Their wild population has since grown to over 3,000. Learn more about this project and others by reading Why Zoos Matter.
In addition to potentially being a member of an assurance population for their species, the individual animals also provide valuable information in understanding animal care, health, and well-being. By caring for these individual animals, we learn to better understand what their needs in the wild are and what we as humans can do to help keep their wild homes healthy.
We often think of animals that need our help as living in faraway places. However, did you know that there are many species of native Georgia wildlife that need our help? Diamondback terrapins, gopher frogs, pollinators, and indigo snakes are just a few of the species right here in Georgia that could use some help keeping their populations at a healthy number. You can help too! Zoo Atlanta is active in several conservation projects, many of which are aimed at helping our local wildlife. From helping terrapins cross the road to planting native wildflowers, there are many simple ways that you can help! Read more about them here!
Are you ready to take action? Animals both local and abroad need your help, and there are some easy, simple steps that you can take to help. From simple shopping tips to save orangutan habitats, to how recycling your old phone can help protect gorillas, there are lots of things that you can do that do not require much effort or change. Check out these things and more on our Take Action page! Something so easy for us to do can mean so much for wildlife habitats.