Saving endangered species begins with you

5/8/2014

May 16 is an important day for zoos. It is a day to celebrate our mission. May 16 is Endangered Species Day! It's a special day when we can focus the public on the animals that need our protection, how we can help those animals and the successes we have had in protecting these species. Our national day to protect wildlife and wild places began 40 years ago with the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

May 16 is an important day for zoos. It is a day to celebrate our mission. May 16 is Endangered Species Day! It's a special day when we can focus the public on the animals that need our protection, how we can help those animals and the successes we have had in protecting these species. Our national day to protect wildlife and wild places began 40 years ago with the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

Since the inception of the Endangered Species Act in 1974, more than 1,800 species have been protected under the law. Of those 1,800-plus species, only nine have been lost to extinction. This shows the resounding success of our nation's efforts to slow the rate of extinction. From black-footed ferrets to bald eagles, species of our nation and species around the world have been saved from simply becoming a memory.

While the official day is May 16, on Saturday, May 17, you can come to Lee Richardson Zoo and learn about some of the endangered animals that we care for, and how you can help their wild counterparts. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a craft table will be set up where your little endangered species defenders can make a mask and be turned into their favorite endangered species. At 11 a.m., there will be a keeper talk at our bald eagle exhibit. Then at noon in Wild Asia, a keeper will teach you about the world's most endangered large cat, the Amur leopard. Finally at 1 p.m., you can meet up with the giraffe keepers and learn how sometimes a species can be both endangered and stable at the same time. While at the giraffe exhibit, you can join our Giraffe Encounter between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. to get an up-close experience with our giraffe herd for only $2 a serving, or $5 for two.

If you can't make it to the zoo or just want to do more, there are numerous ways you can assist all the species of our shared planet. One method to help wildlife is to avoid using chemical herbicides and pesticides in your gardens. These toxins are having negative effects on animals such as monarch butterflies and bees, which are important to continue the pollination process in ecosystems and for our own agriculture. Instead of using pesticides, try attracting wildlife that controls pests such as toads, snakes (the nonvenomous variety) and birds. You can look online to find shelters that will work best for the wild pest controllers in your area.

Another way to help wildlife in general is by reducing your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide created through your actions. To reduce your carbon footprint you can walk or bike when traveling short distances instead of driving. Turn off your electronics when you are not using them, and, for this, I mean completely off. Many people are unaware they are using electricity even when their devices are turned off. This is because they go into a standby mode. While in standby, the devices continue to draw power. The only way to fully shut them off is to unplug them from the wall. To make this easier with my own entertainment center, I have plugged all the electronics into one power strip. With a power strip you can unplug multiple devices at the same time by simply flipping a switch. By reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we produce through vehicles and electricity, we can slow down climate change so that wild species and our own agriculture can flourish for the future.

One of the best things you can do is to continue to learn. Knowledge is power, and it is the most powerful thing we can use as stewards of our planet. So come join us at Lee Richardson Zoo on May 17 to learn about how you can help, as you enjoy seeing some of the world's rarest animals. For more information, you can "like" Lee Richardson Zoo on Facebook or visit our webpage at www.leerichardsonzoo.org.

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