Tails From The Zoo

Biodiversity – Our Life May 21, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Canada’s other 24 accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity — the animals, plants, and countless other life forms that make up the world’s ecosystems.  May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.  The Assiniboine Park Zoo is hosting a Biodiversity Display and Turtle Talk on May 22, 11 am to 3 pm, in the Tropical House, and is highlighting biodiversity conservation in many of its annual programs, such as school presentations, Spring and Summer Zoo Camps, and interpretive talks around the zoo.  Biodiversity promotional materials will also be available to zoo visitors.

2010 Biodiversity Logo

2010 is also the International Year of Biodiversity, and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and  its partners have identified the Arctic region as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. They are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country.  In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, CAZA will be working closely with its partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International.”

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about wildlife and environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. Thousands of organisms – including bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals — live above, on and under a single square metre of the earth’s surface. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity, we lose life itself.

“It’s easy to forget that people are an integral part of Nature and that our lives are tied intimately to the living things around us.” said CAZA President Rachel Leger. “Biodiversity provides us with the oxygen, food, water, fuel, fibre, and medicine we need to survive. And our actions can either preserve or destroy these resources.”

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Arctic Biodiversity Initiative May 20, 2010


Ottawa, May 20 – Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity in our Arctic. May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.

“2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity” declared Rachel Leger, President of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “CAZA and its partners have identified our Arctic regions as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. We are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country. In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we will be working closely with our partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International”.

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. The variety of life on earth – the plants and animals that make up ecosystems – is called biodiversity. Thousands of organisms – bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals – live and thrive above, on and under a single square foot of earth. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity we lose life itself.

At first glance its vast, icy surface might seem empty, but Canada’s Arctic is filled with extremely rich and active ecosystems. From tiny plankton to huge whales, entire communities of animals and plants make their homes on, under or at the edge of the ice.

The unique polar species that live in the Arctic are specially adapted to its extreme conditions – freezing temperatures, strong winds, deep snow, thick ice and permafrost. Even slight changes to the Arctic’s fragile habitats can have a huge impact on these species, and human activities are taking their toll. Pollution, climate change and development all affect Arctic temperature, habitat and available food sources. As their Arctic home continues to change, polar bears, belugas, caribou and the smaller northern animals and plants that support them face an uncertain future.

Protecting species and habitats with national parks, working jointly with Inuit communities to manage these parks, conducting scientific research and spreading the message to Canadians across the country are all part of the cooperative approach inspired by the International Year of Biodiversity and being implemented by CAZA and its three partners. Education programs, lectures, special events, community presentations and other activities will be carried out at each of the participating accredited zoos and aquariums across the country. CAZA members will also help out with Arctic field work and the research that supports it – and will invite Canadians to contribute to this worthwhile endeavour. This special effort is intended to build on the extensive work carried out by Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums in captive breeding and population management programs.

A wealth of information about the Arctic, its biodiversity challenges and what is being done to address them can be found on a new, specially-designed website at www.ourarctic.ca

On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Polar Bears International (PBI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their habitat through research, stewardship, and education. PBI provides scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to institutions and the general public worldwide.

The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a not for profit national organization that represents Canada’s 25 accredited zoos and aquariums. It sets standards through its accreditation program, leads and coordinates work in the fields of research, conservation and education, and represents its members’ interests with governments at all levels.

For further information:

Bill Peters

Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums

 

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!

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Following up on the recent zoo baby announcements:

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

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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

 

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!

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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

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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)

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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

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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