England's Chester Zoo is another excellent zoo which makes a huge conservation difference globally. Originally opened in 1931, since its earliest days Chester's zoo technology and thinking has been cutting edge. Chester also has one of the most comprehensive and largest zoo conservation commitments globally. Chester trains and assists people who save endangered species in situ (within their native lands), captive breeds animals ex situ (not within their native lands; i.e. at Chester Zoo if non-native species), assists captive bred endangered species reintroductions, sponsors research regarding endangered species biology, and minimizes threats through educational program formulation.
Researcher Claudio Sillero (who also helped found the Andean Cat Alliance) founded the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP) during 1995 to reverse the Ethiopian wolf'sCanis simensis headlong plummet towards extinction. The Ethiopian wolf is the most endangered canid (dog)- less than 450 are alive today. The Ethiopian wolf's greatest threats are human encroachment and all that brings: habitat loss, road building, domestic dogs' diseases, and human hunting which eliminates perceived threats to livestock.
The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 by Tom Cade, an ornithology professor at Cornell University, to save the peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus, which had nearly disappeared through the western United States, and reintroduce it back into the eastern United States. A captive breeding program including offspring reintroduction was initiated and was wildly successful. Consequently, the Peregrine Fund now can focus their energies towards saving other birds of prey species and has helped save ~100 raptor species (and also some non-raptors, like the critically endangered Madagascar pochardAythya innotata). The Peregrine Fund run the World Center for Birds of Prey (WCBP), a breeding center and a zoo which only has birds of prey (much like the International Crane Foundation has a breeding center and zoo which specializes just on crane species) and breed large numbers of species like California condorsGymnogyps californianus, Aplomado falcons Falco femoralis, bald eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Mauritius kestrelsFalco punctatus, and many more.
The good people at BirdLife International (formerly the International Council for Bird Preservation) have been protecting endangered birds since 1922. BirdLife is an alliance(the largest conservation alliance globally) of many different conservation and scientific organizations (like the National Audubon Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) banded together so BirdLife can unite resources, determine important directions within research and conservation to pursue and give the bird conservation community a stronger lobbying position.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is extremely well known throughout the UK, but I include it because it is much less well known outside the UK although it is expanding more and more into international conservation projects, and also because it is an excellent example showing how a local conservation organization can be run extremely successfully. The RSPB has focused its efforts into three main arenas: protect habitat through their 200+ reserves scattered around the UK, initiate programs which build up endangered species numbers, and use their political clout (through their more than one million members) to effect positive change regarding wildlife and native habitats.
My name is Thomas Knight. I am a zoo keeper and this is a site drawing attention to people/organizations which do great conservation work. I hope it will provide support for people who do amazing work, will inspire others to follow their examples, & create hope in what can sometimes seem an overwhelmingly bleak global environmental situation. Individuals can make a difference. It is also a place for positive exchanges. I like the trolls less than I like the Billy Goats Gruff, and comments by trolls will be butted into the river of internet obscurity. Don't like the thought of animals in zoos, even if it saves a species? Fair enough, but don't post angry comments here. Those people wanting arguments with others to convince them your position is the correct one, try here. This blog is all about love and happiness, not flame wars and hate. You know when you curl up in bed on a cold winter's night just after the dryer releases a warm blanket over you? That is this blog.
Speaking of love and happiness, you may have noticed that scattered throughout the blog there are art works picturing some animals which are being protected through the featured organization, made by artists both young and old. If you have art from a budding young (or older) artist showing an animal being protected through a featured conservation organization, email me at email@example.com and I will put it up amongst the appropriate organization's post.
A little about where Thomas Knight is coming from
I have been a zoo keeper since I was a teen and am a strong believer in the power of one person to save the planet. Many people who love animals love zoos, many hate zoos. This blog is not a referendum covering everyone's personal views concerning zoos since the views are many and complex and nobody is completely right or completely wrong. I will not argue over zoo ethics philosophies. This blog's purpose is to provide myriad conservation organizations which attack similar problems from various angles some positive support, but here is my view so you know where I stand: Like most things, zoos can be whatever we want. Ideally, zoos should be another tool in our arsenal, preventing habitat destruction & species extinctions, likethis. Bad zoos certainly exist, and we should focus our energies into improving or (in worst cases where improvement to globally accepted animal care standards is clearly not possible/wanted by the owners) closing them. However, there are many, many good zoos. Those zoos should be treated like the exceptional resources they are. Without zoos, many people would never build any connection with nature at all. I can't tell you how many kids (and adults) I have met who didn't know where eggsoriginate, orbacon. Never mind knowing anything else concerning animals. One thing that makes me sad is so many inner city kids never see any animal species other thanrats,cockroaches, & pigeons. Zoos provide people an opportunity to encounter animals and form a sense of awe, a spiritual connection if you will, with other species whichon this planet. There is something different when you see an animal before you, you watch it yourself, their magical uniqueness, which can't be replicated through television or a book, but must be experienced. A species' conservation will interest nobody without first forming a connection with that species or another, which is perhaps the most important zoo role. Thebest zooshave played an important role whenaverting species extinctions. All good zoos play a larger conservation role these days, which is how it should be.
The main argument I hear against zoos is it is cruel keeping animal species captive, without their freedom. But nature also has fences; territorial boundaries are just as real as fences. These days the whole planet is also becomesmall fenced areas where animals are kept inside, versus fences around our houses to keep animals outside. This is tremendously sad, but a fact nonetheless. However, ifzoos' artificial territories and natural wild territories are similar, is there a difference? If the animal says no, so do I. Just something worth pondering.
Zoos are not the only way we can foster a love for naturethough. Another favorite way is through books- I have a massive (over 1500 books & journals) natural history book library. I will choose some excellent books concerning different blogs and post links regarding them. The books are pretty specialist (and often quite pricey), but are books which are worth the cost. Learning makes me happy though, so let me know if you think there's a better book available. Got to keep up with the Joneses.