ZSL challenges world zoos to change in face of extinction crisis
Thursday 19 February 2004
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), will issue a challenge to the community of world zoos to meet a new and ambitious conservation vision for zoos and aquaria at the start of a two-day international zoo symposium held at London Zoo
The joint Symposium co-hosted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on 19 and 20 of February will bring together leading thinkers and practitioners familiar with the diverse conservation activities of zoos.
World zoos currently care for thousands of endangered species with some species, such as the Bali starling, scimitar-horned oryx and Prezewalski's horse, dependent on zoos for their survival. With species disappearing on a weekly basis, zoos need to realise their full potential and respond to the biodiversity crisis.
Modern zoos have changed beyond recognition and have progressed a long way from the days of elephant rides. Today, zoos play an essential and often underestimated role in world conservation as conservation centres supporting endangered species and their habitats and as educational and research institutes.
With 650 million people visiting zoos world-wide they have a huge opportunity to inspire and mobilise conservation support from the public. Zoos are a massively under-utilised resource and have tremendous technical skills that can make a difference to projects in the wild.
- To act as a catalyst for conservation zoos must:
- Increase support from zoos to projects in the wild
- Inspire and mobilise greater conservation support from the public
- Extend the role zoos play as breeding grounds for future conservation professionals
- Share unique skills, such as veterinary techniques, from zoos to projects in the wild
"We are facing a world extinction crisis and conservation organisations like zoos, must act now by building upon their successes and raising their game," said Prof. Chris West, Zoological Director of ZSL. "This symposium represents a unique opportunity for world zoos to review their conservation achievements and look at what they can do to be even more effective in the future."
"Speakers will discuss everything from re-introduction projects to animal welfare and will aim to define a way forward that increases the contribution of zoos and aquaria to tackling the on-going global biodiversity crisis."
Contact: Debbie Curtis 020 7449 6363 or 07889043843
Notes to Editors
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, and carries out scientific research through the Institute of Zoology as well as being actively involved in field conservation.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS): The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild lands. They do so through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together, these activities change individual attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in sustainable interaction on both a local and a global scale. WCS is committed to this work because it believes it is essential to the integrity of life on earth.
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