Tails From The Zoo

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


World Oceans Day May 28, 2009

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Eco-Dates,World News — Scott Gray @ 11:40 am
Tags: ,

Hi everyone. I thought I would share an email we received from Bill Mott, the Director of The Ocean Project.  I hope you will get involved with us by wearing blue and telling two on June 8th.

For World Oceans Day…  Wear Blue, Tell Two!

With the newly official World Oceans Day coming up June 8th, The Ocean
Project encourages partners to launch a “Wear Blue and Tell Two”
campaign to celebrate. Participation is easy: wear blue in honor of the
ocean, and tell people two things they likely don’t know about the ocean
and ways they can take action.

Our recent public opinion research – to be released publicly on June 4 –
indicates that the public is looking to zoos, aquariums, and museums
(ZAMs) to learn more about ocean issues and how they can help; through
this campaign, we hope to help our Partners find new ways to meet this

Wear Blue and Tell Two
We urge all Partners and others in the ocean conservation community to
promote association between the color blue and World Oceans Day:

Wear Blue
In honor of the ocean on this special day, we are asking individuals
everywhere – especially those working at ZAMs, as well as those at NGOs,
agencies, universities, schools, and businesses – to help spread the
blue. For instance, you might develop buttons and/or posters saying “Ask
me why I’m blue today” to help staff and docents stimulate a
“conservation conversation.”

Tell Two
Tell people two things they likely don’t know about the ocean combined
with an easy way for them to help. According to our public opinion
survey, most people don’t realize that our ocean is in trouble, but they
trust ZAMs and are looking to them to provide information on how to
help. Few people are aware of the close connection between climate
change and ocean health; for example, climate change is killing coral
reefs as water temperatures rise. And few know that destructive fishing
practices are causing huge declines in the many types of fish we depend
on for food. However, you can let your visitors know that there are
personal actions each person can take to help.

For example:

  • Calculating carbon footprints and finding ways to reduce household carbon emissions.
  • Choosing healthy and sustainable seafood: abundant in supply, and fished or farmed without harm to the ocean.

Find links to the best online carbon calculators, seafood guides, and
more here: http://www.theoceanproject.org/wod/wod_wearblue.php

“Wear Blue and Tell Two” on June 8: www.WorldOceansDay.org


Canuck Nanooks May 3, 2009

The Vickery sisters have been recognized for their outstanding conservation work in the Winnipeg Free Press yet again. And for good reason. Tom Oleson profiled the family that calls themselves the Canuck Nanooks, http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/little-does-a-lot-41620352.html , on their superb drive to make a difference for polar bear conservation and education. The family was again profiled in the Winnipeg Free Press for their ourstanding win at the most recent Polar Bears International competition in San Diego, http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/life/grin-and-bear-it.html.

The Zoological Society of Manitoba, a beneficiary of the Canuck Nanooks fund raising drive, would like to express a heart felt Hoorah! for all of the efforts of this group. I had the good fortune of meeting the Vickery family last year and the priviledge to get to know them a bit better during our Boo at the Zoo event. The team rolled out to the Assiniboine Park Zoo nearly every night to talk to as many Halloween visitors as they could about the plight of the polar bear and its Arctic habitat. The team of three (plus Mom!) have been a relentless voice for making a positive difference in the world and for doing it in a fun and energized way.

Polar Bears International was lucky to have found such effective voices for the wild, and Manitoba was lucky to have found such wild voices! If you have not yet heard of the Canuck Nanooks before, you will. I expect that this is just the start as the group expands on their energized solutions. In a world of bad news for mother earth, including global warming, mass extinctions and habitat destruction, the Nanooks will put a smile on your face, your hand on your wallet and a skip in your step. Don’t believe me? While most of us would run out and spend our prize money on a new iPod or clothes or something we really don’t need, the Canuck Nanooks have pledged it to the Polar Bear Conservation Fund! With support like this, the Zoological Society of Manitoba and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will reach its goal of becoming a world leader in polar bear and Arctic conservation very soon indeed.

For more information on how you can donate to the Polar Bear Conservation Fund, please visit www.zoosociety.com or joinvisit our Facebook group called Polar Bear Express 2009.


Polar Bear Express On Facebook April 7, 2009

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Fund Raising,The Zoo and You — Scott Gray @ 5:54 pm
Tags: , ,

Join the Polar Bear Express by becoming a fan of our Facebook page.

The Zoological Society has already raised $10,000 Ice Cap for our Polar Bear Conservation Fund and we will be hosting lots of fun events (runs, socials, Halloween programs) that will continue our drive to 25 (ice caps)!

If you would like to be a part of our drive to bring polar bear conservation and education facilities and programs to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, please become a fan of our page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/pages/Polar-Bear-Express-2009/61846966761?ref=mf


Year of the Frog Review December 5, 2008

The Zoological Society of Manitoba and the Assiniboine Park Zoo helped kick of Year of the Frog (YOTF) in February of this year (on Leap Day none-the-less!) as we joined hundreds of zoos, aquariums and conservation organizations bring about public awareness about amphibians. The Amphibian Ark helped spearhead this massive global public awareness campaign to focus the public’s attention on endangered amphibians, of which there hundreds of species in peril. It also helped focus attention on the critical work being done by zoos and aquariums to save them.  The Zoological Society of Manitoba has been supporting this worldwide initiative with special events, educational programs and community outreach efforts throughout 2008.

The Zoological Society’s Education Department included YOTF in many of its programs in 2008, including spring and summer zoo camps, school programs and interpretive talks, tours and educational booths. We will continue to do so over the coming years. The zoo has also just realeased a series of 15 new amphibian interpretive signs. These new signs will be found throughout the zoo in the spring of 2009, not next to exhibits, but next to the ponds and natural areas in the park. Many people don’t realize that some of the animal sounds that they hear at the zoo in the spring and early summer are not from the zoo’s residents but from wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs, leopard frongs, spring peepers and other frogs and toads that call the Assiniboine Park and Zoo home.

For more information on YOTF, please visit www.zoosociety.com


Wild Links! November 17, 2008

The Zoo Education Centre has been busy finding lots of fantastic links to wildlife organizations for you. Use our list to help you with students, teachers and group leader, info finds, general browsing, and so much more.

This is a short list of organizations that are affiliated or work with zoos in some way. If you would like to see the whole list, please visit: http://www.zoosociety.com/Education/conservation.asp

Organizations based out of North America:

Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums:  http://www.ammpa.org

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZA):  http://www.aazv.org

American Bird Conservancy (ABC):  www.abcbirds.org

Bat Conservation International (BCI):  www.batcon.org

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force:  http://www.bushmeat.org

Butterfly Conservation Initiative (BFCI):  www.butterflyrecovery.org

Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA):  http://www.caza.ca

Center for Biological Diversity:  http://www.biologicaldiversity.org

Conservation International (CI):  www.conservation.org

Defenders of Wildlife:  www.defenders.org

International Elephant Foundation: http://www.elephantconservation.org

International Rhino Foundation:  http://www.rhinos-irf.org

Last Chance for Animals (LCA):  www.lcanimal.org

National Audubon Society:  www.audubon.org

National Wildlife Federation (NWF):  www.nwf.org

The Nature Conservancy:  www.nature.org

Ocean Alliance:  www.oceanalliance.org

The Peregrine Fund:  www.peregrinefund.org

Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS):  http://www.paws.org

Rainforest Action Network (RAN):  www.ran.org

Rainforest Alliance:  http://www.rainforest-alliance.org

Timber Wolf Information Network (TWIN):  http://www.timberwolfinformation.org

Waterkeepers Alliance:  www.waterkeeper.org

Wilderness Society:  http://www.wilderness.org

Wildlife Alliance:  www.wildlifealliance.org

Wildlife Society:  http://joomla.wildlife.org

Wolf Recovery Foundation:  www.forwolves.org

World Parrot Trust:  www.parrots.org

World Wildlife Fund:  www.worldwildlife.org

Animal Organizations based outside of North America:

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE):  www.zeroextinction.org

Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA):  www.arazpa.org.au

European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA):  http://www.eaza.net

Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA):  http://www.jazga.or.jp/english/index.html

Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR):  http://www.ssarherps.org

Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA):  http://www.turtlesurvival.org

World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA):  http://www.waza.org

World Owl Trust (WOT):  www.owls.org