Silver Spring, MD (PRWEB) June 06, 2011
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos are leaders in elephant conservation education and science, and invite the public to celebrate and support elephants by visiting them this summer.
“Experiencing an elephant close-up is an unforgettable experience,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “Elephants inspire us to protect fragile populations in Africa and Asia, and there’s no better place to connect with them and understand what is being done to help them than at an AZA-accredited zoo.”
Status Of Elephants In The Wild
In the wild, elephants are in trouble. Elephant populations in Africa and Asia are under severe threat from human-elephant conflict (HEC), intense poaching, disease, and dramatic loss of habitat.
Elephas maximus – Over the last 75 years, the population of Asian elephants is estimated to have declined by 50 percent or more, maintaining their endangered status according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN). There are now an estimated 45,000 Asian elephants in 13 countries.
Loxodonta africana – The status of African elephants varies considerably across the species' range, but elephant distribution is becoming increasingly fragmented across the continent. Conservation and education efforts are crucial to maintain vulernable elephant populations and habitats. There are now an estimated 470,000 to 690,000 African elephants in 37 countries.
Elephants in Zoos are Thriving
AZA-accredited facilities launched the Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program in 1981 as a cooperative population management and conservation program for many at-risk species. The Elephant Taxon Advisory Group and SSPs provides a comprehensive strategy that spans veterinary research, public education, and field conservation projects. Its mission is to promote a strong future for African and Asian elephant populations.
Today, 298 elephants are managed within the SSP. About one half are Asian elephants and half are African elephants. They are cared for daily by professional zookeepers and veterinarians who dedicate their lives to these magnificent animals.
The AZA Standards for Elephant Management and Care set requirements for enclosure design, nutrition, reproduction, enrichment, and veterinary care to ensure high-quality zoo habitats for elephants. These mandatory standards are working and the North American elephant population is thriving. In addition, new state-of-the-art exhibits and improvement at many zoos—including zoos in San Diego, CA, Dallas, TX, Washington, DC, Birmingham, AL, Oklahoma City, OK and Cleveland, OH—demonstrate the ongoing commitment to excellence in elephant care.
With the help of elephants in AZA-accredited zoos, elephants around the world are benefiting from veterinary advancements. Because of scientific research in zoos, artificial insemination is now being practiced in Asia; contraceptive drugs and techniques are available as an alternative to culling; and tuberculosis tests and drugs are safely implemented worldwide. Similarly, the study of pheromones and breeding behavior was first identified and studied in zoos.
Your Visit Makes a Difference
Elephants in AZA-accredited zoos help educate visitors, make emotional connections, and change behaviors that positively impact elephant conservation. In a Harris Interactive poll, 95 percent of Americans said that seeing elephants in zoos helps people appreciate them more. That same poll found that 86 percent of respondents believe that visiting zoos encourages people to donate time and/or money to elephant conservation.
Zoos regularly provide conservation-oriented educational encounters to educate the public about the conservation status of elephants in the wild. Many also offer adult education classes to focus on the plight of elephants and the conservation efforts currently underway, with a portion of registration funds going directly to continue in-situ work to help elephant.
By visiting elephants in accredited zoos, people help make possible the field conservation, research, habitat restoration, reduction of human-elephant conflicts and community-based initiatives necessary to protect wild populations. AZA-accredited zoos provide the majority of funding for the International Elephant Foundation, supporting elephant conservation projects worldwide. Read about the projects funded for the year 2011.
Zoos Conservation Efforts
AZA-accredited zoos play an important role in furthering elephant conservation on a worldwide basis. In addition to supporting the elephant Species Survival Plan, 10 examples of these vital programs include:
Connecting with Elephants
There is no substitute for connecting with an elephant up close. You can have a unique experience with an elephant at 72 AZA-accredited zoos. Visit any of these AZA-accredited zoos today to learn more about elephants, how the zoo is contributing to conservation and what you can do to help. Find the AZA-accredited institution near http://www.aza.org/zooelephants
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