Tails From The Zoo

Fun Friday Zoo Facts April 30, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Birds,Carbon Footprints,Eco-Dates,World News — Scott Gray @ 3:30 pm
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Saving the Earth is a lot easier than you think!

  • A gas-powered lawn mower for one hour can emit as much pollution as driving a car more than 320 kilometres.  Trade in your gas-guzzler for an electric or solar powered lawn mower!


Following up on the recent zoo baby announcements:

  • The Assiniboine Park Zoo now has baby stones sheep, European bison, and reindeer.


Upcoming National and International Days
International Composting Awareness Week – May 3 to 9 –
Visit: The Composting Council of Canada
International Migratory Bird Day – May 9 – Visit: http://www.birdday.org/
International Day for Biological Diversity – May 22 – Visit Biodiversity Canada
World Turtle Day – May 23 – Visit: Turtle Day Celebrations


World Tapir Day Happens On April 27 April 19, 2010

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Eco-Dates,Extinction — Scott Gray @ 8:25 am

World Tapir Day occurs on April 27 every year. Are you ready?


The following information on tapirs comes directly from the Official World Tapir Day website: http://www.tapirday.org/


World Tapir Day has been established, in the first instance, to raise awareness about the four species of tapir that inhabit Central and South America and South-East Asia. Each of the four species is in decline, with the Mountain Tapir (below left) facing extinction within the next twenty years, should conservation efforts not be introduced in its ever-shrinking natural range in Colombia and Ecuador. The Baird’s Tapir (below right), the largest mammal of the Americas, is facing a similar threat in its home range in Central America. Across the Pacific Ocean, the Malayan Tapir faces severe threats in Indonesia and other countries due to habitat destruction. Even the Brazilian Tapir, the most numerous species of tapir, is vulnerable because of the increasing rate of destruction of the Amazon. There may even be a fifth, distinct subspecies of Brazilian Tapir, but there is little research in this area to date.

As large herbivores, tapirs are invariably the first species affected by human encroachment into their territory, and amongst the last to return to regrowth forest. They require substantial tracts of undisturbed land to maintain a genetically-diverse population. Tapirs inhabit jungles, grasslands, swamps and cloud forests, yet each is threatened by human activity – be that mining, palm oil plantations, roads or settlements. They form an important part of the ecosystem as seed dispersers, and form one of the oldest surviving genera in the animal kingdom.

Despite their size, history and ecological importance, tapirs remain one of the least recognised species of animals. In comparison with other animals, tapirs feature little in the collective consciousness and are frequently misidentified by zoo visitors. Even in their home ranges, tapirs receive little attention, with exotic species featuring more prominently in zoos, children’s books and the media.

Mountain tapir standing in a river

Mountain tapir

Baird's tapir

Baird's tapir

Photos are copyright: http://www.arkive.org


The plight of tapirs is symbolic for the wider threat to their habitats specifically, and the world’s ecology in general. The decline of tapir populations is indicative of the general health of their ranges; their disappearance from their home ranges often marks a point of ‘no return’ for the natural environment. The destruction of forests into small, isolated enclaves and the encroachment of human activity into pristine forests affects all native species. However, as the largest – yet perhaps the quietest – of animals in their ranges, tapirs disappear without trace with countless other species.

All tapirs are endangered species. Saving tapirs helps to save the rainforest. Saving rainforests helps to save the planet and prevent climate change.


Wild Weeks in March March 10, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Carbon Footprints,Eco-Dates,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 11:21 am
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We are in the middle of National Tree Week, which runs from March 7 to 13, and I’m wondering what you are doing to celebrate. Have you hugged a tree yet? Okay that’s maybe a little simplistic but what child doesn’t like hugging a tree?

The aim of National Tree Week is to raise awareness about trees and to encourage local communities to participate in forest walks and tree plantings. Planting a tree you can help to reduce carbon emissions. Trees take in carbon dioxide from the air and convert much of it into wood. The by-product of doing so is the production of oxygen. Trees also provide habitats for birds, insects, small mammals and even a few frogs!


Next week, March 15 – 21, is National Wildlife Week in the US. You can celebrate the week by getting outside and enjoying nature. “Climb trees, chase butterflies, dig in the dirt and celebrate nature. You’ll become healthier, happier and more connected to the world around you.” Keep your momentum going and send your child to our Spring Day Camp at the Assiniboine Park Zoo – where our policy is no child is left inside!


If you’re more of a bird person, keep a note on the calendar for March 14th, International Migratory Bird Day. I’ll be posting a separate blog for this day later in the week.


Eco-Dates for March 2010 February 23, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Eco-Dates,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 10:37 am
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It’s been a little while since I focused on some of the monthly eco-awareness dates, but January and February are a bit light in that regard. I hope you spent time on February 2, World Wetlands Day, thinking about how biologically diverse wetlands are. They are extremely important as habitat for so many animals and plants. Some animals (like muskrats) are permanent marsh users while others are more seasonal, such as the dozens of species of birds that use marshes as staging grounds during migration.

China’s Year of the Tiger began on February 14th. Happy New Year China! Let’s hope the tiger has a good year in 2010 since they’ve not been doing well in the wild as of late.


We’ve got lots to look forward to in March, including:

March 3-5 – World Sustainable Energy Days

March 7-13 – National Tree Week

March 14 – International Migratory Bird Day

March 15-19 – National Wildlife Week

March 12-20 – National Outdoor Week (UK)

March 20 – Vernal (Spring) Equinox

March 21 – World Forestry Day

March 22 – World Day for Water (UN)

March 23 – World Meteorological Day (UN)

March 27 – Earth Hour (8:30 pm)


I will be writing separate posts for many of these days and hope you will stay tuned. I also hope you will take part in one or more of these special awareness days. It’s so easy to do and it does make a positive difference to our environment. Don’t believe me? If everyone that reads this blog takes a friend out to plant a tree during the week of March 7-13 (National Tree Week), we’ve instantly created lots of new habitat for animals. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of animals (including insects, birds, mammals) will use the trees. Plus, the trees will of course help filter CO2 out of the environment over the years they are growing. The trees, even after they’ve died, will also act as shelter for many animals.

Let us know what you are doing to celebrate some of these awareness days by leaving a comment to help inspire others to get involved.


Manitoba Biodiversity Network January 13, 2010

Filed under: Biodiversity,Eco-Dates — Scott Gray @ 9:44 pm
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The Manitoba Biodiversity Network (Bio-Net for short)

We are an committed group of individuals and agencies that is passionate about nature and concerned about protecting it. Bio-Net is lead by representatives from Manitoba Conservation, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Zoological Society of Manitoba, Living Prairie Museum, Ft Whyte Alive, Invasive Species Council of Manitoba, Manitoba Museum, Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre and the University of Manitoba, as well as a number of private citizens.

One of the members, Nature North, is acting as our central hub for all of our articles, events, resources and I hope you have a chance to visit the site. www.naturenorth.com


To get things started, here is the UN proclamation announcing International Year of Biodiversity:

UN Proclamation

“The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. This year coincides with the 2010 Biodiversity Target adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and by Heads of State and government at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.

The celebrations of the International Year of Biodiversity are a unique opportunity to raise public awareness about the vital role of biodiversity in sustaining life on Earth and of its importance to human well-being and poverty reduction.

The main goals of the year are to:

• Enhance public awareness on the importance of conserving biodiversity and on the underlying threats to biodiversity;

• Raise awareness of the accomplishments to save biodiversity by communities and governments;

and to:

• Promote innovative solutions to reduce these threats;

• Call on individuals, organizations and governments to take immediate steps to halt biodiversity loss;

• Initiate dialogue among stakeholders on necessary steps for the post-2010 period. “

(David Ainsworth, Secretariat, Convention on Biological Diversity)


Check out our Bio-Days chart if you’re not sure how to get involved or think a whole year is too big a commitment. You can pick one or two ecologically important dates to help do be greener. View the calendar here: www.zoosociety.com

2010 Biodiversity Logo


Eco-Dates – Now and Upcoming December 21, 2009

Filed under: Eco-Dates — Scott Gray @ 7:15 pm
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Well it would seem that November and December are a little light on eco-days. I only know of three but if I’ve missed one, please let me know

November 6 – International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War & Armed Conflict (UN)

November 21 – World Fisheries Day

December 21 – Winter Solstice


Today is the Winter Solstice where the Northern Hemisphere celebrates its short day. Obviously there are still 24 hours in the day but the majority of them are dark. The amount of daylight is at its lowest on December 21. From here on out the amount of daylight we get will slowly increase. That’s the good part – the bad part is that winter solstice also signifies three months of winter and the coldest part of the year.

To warm you up, here’s a primer for January 2010’s Eco-Dates: (If you’re a birder, you’ll love these two)

January 5 is  National Bird Day (in the US)

January 30-31 is Big Garden Bird Watch (in the UK)

As always, you can get a full listing of eco-dates at http://zoosociety.com/education_roots.asp?L=0


October’s Eco-Dates October 6, 2009

So what did you do on October 4? Did you celebrate World Animal Day? I hope so. In fact I hope you celebrate animals everyday, but in case you missed this year’s celebrations, here’s a re-cap.

World Animal Day, October 4

We celebrate World Animal Day to express our compassion and concern for all creatures. World Animal Day’s mission is to: celebrate animal life in all its forms; celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom; acknowledge the diverse roles animals play in our lives; and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives. To find out more, please visit: World Animal Day

As a reminder, there are a couple more upcoming dates to celebrate.

Waste Reduction Week runs October 19-25

Waste Reduction Week aims to inform and engage Canadians about the environmental and social impact of our wasteful practices. It strives to educate, engage and empower Canadians to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Everyone, including schools, businesses, and individuals can all get involved! Visit Waste Reduction Week Canada at http://www.wrwcanada.com/ for more information and resources.

International Day of Climate Action is on October 24

Scientists now know that an environment with carbon in the atmosphere that tops 350 parts per million will not support life as we know it. Sadly, we’re already past that number, at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting and drought is spreading across the planet. 350 gives us a target to aim for. Join the international movement on October 24 to take a stand for a safe climate future and raise awareness about this important number (350). Make a statement to get the attention of the world’s leaders, before they meet in Copenhagen in December to reach an agreement on a new climate treaty. Visit www.350.org to make a difference before it becomes too hard to reach our goal.