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

 

World Tapir Day Happens On April 27 April 19, 2010

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Eco-Dates,Extinction — Scott Gray @ 8:25 am
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World Tapir Day occurs on April 27 every year. Are you ready?

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

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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

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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!

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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 – 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

 

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.