You may have heard we celebrated Earth Day on April 26 and helped connect almost 1,000 students with 19 exhibitors to teach them how, and why, to be good stewards of our world.
Earth Day at Lee Richardson Zoo was a resounding success, and you can see a recap of many of the wonderful happenings on our Facebook page. Now that we have had a wonderful time celebrating Earth Day, we want to celebrate, and remember, some of the reasons we want to teach our children to be good stewards of the planet. One of the days that’s great at highlighting why we need to be good stewards of the planet is Endangered Species Day.
This year, we will observe Endangered Species Day on May 19. Endangered Species Day is a day we look at the animals who are becoming the rarest of rare. We have several endangered species at Lee Richarson Zoo and a few that are critically endangered.
The addax is one of the most endangered species in the world, with less than 100 individuals left in the wild. Our commitment to conservation is strong at Lee Richardson Zoo, and we are ecstatic that two male addax calves were born this year at our zoo. While the two new calves will most likely not be released to the wild, their births help protect against the complete extinction of their species and allow for potentially increased genetic diversity in the population.
Lee Richardson Zoo is also home to two endangered black rhinoceroses, Johari and Jabari. The black rhino population is reducing quickly due mainly to poaching for their horns, and also due to habitat loss. Black rhinos generally have one baby at a time and have a very long gestation period, 15-17 months, so black rhino populations recover very slowly.
As you are walking through the zoo, take time to stop by our Przewalski Horse habitat. Przewalskis were extinct in the wild, but with lots of hard work from zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in collaboration with local governments in the horse's natural range, the Przewalski horse was brought back from extinction in the wild. Prezwalski horses once again roam free in the steppes of central Asia. Lee Richardson Zoo is home to three Prezwalski horses, Yelena is the oldest Prezwalski currently at an AZA zoo, and you can see them grazing in their habitat.
Directly across from the Prezwalski horses live the Bactrian camel. The wild Bactrian camel is critically endangered, with less than 1,000 living in their home range of Northern China and Southern Mongolia. Bactrian camels KJ and Mona call Lee Richardson Zoo home, and you can visit them on your next visit. You will notice that Bactrian camels have two humps instead of one like the Dromedary camel. Bactrian camels adapt well to the southwestern Kansas climate as their native home range also has extremely cold winters and hot, dry summers. Bactrian camels, like our very own bison, can withstand temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stop by Lee Richardson Zoo on May 19 for Endangered Species Day. You will be able to learn more about your favorite species, find out how we take care of these endangered animals, and learn from zoo staff all that goes into taking care of the zoo residents. You can also learn more about the differences in individuals at our keeper chats. There will be fun and games for children of all ages, and you can take part in a giraffe encounter from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and encounter rhinos from 2:30 to 3 p.m., weather and animals permitting.
You can find out more about all of our animal awareness days by visiting www.leerichardsonzoo.org or going to our Facebook page. You can also call our office at (620) 276-1250. Thank you for supporting Lee Richardson Zoo, and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Max Lakes is the curator of conservation education at Lee Richardson Zoo.