Posts Tagged With: conservation

Wild Earth Action Team leads whooping success in Corpus Christi

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The Wild Earth Action Team birding in Blucher Park

The Wild Earth Action Team birding in Blucher Park.

The Dallas Zoo works with partners around the world to save wildlife and protect wild spaces, but a major effort recently happened closer to home with some important Texas neighbors.

The team observes the endangered whooping crane in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

The team observes the endangered whooping crane in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

The zoo’s Wild Earth Action Team trekked south to Corpus Christi to restore coastal habitats in support of whooping crane conservation.

The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America and migrates each year from central Canada to the Texas coast for the winter. The Dallas Zoo group dug in and got their hands dirty during a clean-up to help wildlife and their vital ecosystems.

The Wild Earth Action Team also took a four-hour adventure through the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, exploring the whooping crane’s winter grounds and observing 14 of these elegant birds. They even witnessed a rare moment when a whooping crane pair caught a snake and fed it to their young.

“It was thrilling to see whooping cranes up close,” said volunteer Becca Dyer. “I learned so much from the naturalists on the trip. I felt I was taking positive action participating in the beach cleanup.”

Removing litter from Corpus Christi's North Beach

Removing litter from Corpus Christi’s North Beach.

The entire experience was incredible for the team since this species once was so close to the brink of extinction. Our team of 23 volunteers and staff removed nearly 200 pounds of micro-litter along North Beach, including roughly 1,000 cigarette butts. Litter removal plays a key role in improving water quality and restoring coastal wetlands where many of the whooping crane’s food sources reside.

By the mid-1940s, only 15 whooping cranes existed in the wild. While still categorized as an endangered species, roughly 600 birds exist today due to the continued advocacy of conservation heroes across the United States.

“It made me feel overwhelmed with inspiration and gratitude for the conservation champions who went before us and stood up to save these cranes – all the work, the study, the policy advocacy, the habitat restoration and protection, the propagation and reintroduction by zoos and other conservation organizations – everything it takes to save animals from extinction,” said Ben Jones, dean of the Dallas Zoo’s Wild Earth Academy and trip co-leader.

Volunteers enjoy a visit to Dyers Aquarium

Volunteers Elizabeth Clay and Paul and Becca Dyer enjoy a visit to the Texas State Aquarium.

The weekend was filled with engaging learning opportunities as well. Alex Gilly, a bird keeper at the zoo, provided a fantastic presentation on the world’s 15 crane species as well as our role in crane conservation. The team was given a behind-the-scenes look at the Texas State Aquarium rehabilitation facilities, where they met an array of aquatic life and learned their unique stories. Dr. Liz Smith, the International Crane Foundation’s whooping crane biologist and Texas program director, even spoke to the group, providing an update on whooping crane preservation and efforts to combat the effects of climate change on coastal   wetlands.

All and all, the weekend stands as a whooping success for our Wild Earth Action Team as they extended the Zoo’s vision of creating a better world for animals. Still, it’s important to remember that conservation is a joint endeavor that requires dedication to produce results. It all starts with taking actions, no matter how small, and making sustainable changes.

The Wild Earth Action Team gathers for a group shot

The Wild Earth Action Team gathers for a group shot.

“Much of our conservation field efforts are done by volunteers who are a part of our Wild Earth Action Team,” said Julie Bates, director of Volunteers and trip co-leader. “This is a movement of volunteers that have a passion for nature and wildlife. The time and energy this team gives is priceless. Locally and across the state, we are creating a better world for animals by planting trees, restoring wildlife habitat, and cleaning beaches. We would love to have you join us on our next adventure!”

Stay tuned for more information about our next Wild Earth Action Team expedition when we travel to South Padre Island June 23–25 and work on Saving Sea Turtles.

 

Categories: Birds, Conservation, Education, Volunteers | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s World Wildlife Day & we need millennials to care

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_MG_1606-giraffe feeding-visitors-CB

“Investment in our young people will ensure the continued survival of wild animals and plants and help us in the fight against the devastating illicit trade in wildlife.” ~ John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITESIMG_4353 Galapagos Number 12 with Bradley Lawrence CS

Today is World Wildlife Day, a global celebration dedicated to raising awareness about the wild animals and plants that inhabit our incredible planet. This year’s theme urges animal lovers everywhere to “listen to the young voices.” Nearly half of the world’s population is under the age of 25 – that’s roughly 3 billion young people!

Now, more than ever, we need to encourage these future leaders to take action and protect endangered wildlife before they are gone forever. Today, we seek to empower both millennials and Gen Z so that they may be the last generations to ever have to worry about species extinction. We incite these young people to make their voices heard and call for change before it is too late.

There are currently over 40,000 species on the IUCN Red List. Of these species, approximately 16,000 of them are endangered – translation: they’re at risk of extinction. More than 1,000 of these endangered species are native to the U.S. alone. Each year this number grows larger and larger from pollution, habitat destruction, poaching, and illegal trade. If left unchecked, the results could be catastrophic.

The loss of even a single species reverberates through the food chain, impacting all plants and wildlife within an ecosystem. Natural landscapes are slowly disappearing with little hope for reversal or regrowth. _MG_0033-Little boy at penguins-CBFrom advances in medicine to helping us breathe, the reasons for protecting these wild spaces and their inhabitants are innumerable.

For millennials and Gen Z, sustainability is no longer merely a suggestion, but an immediate responsibility. Change must happen now on both a local and global scale. We owe the earth, its wildlife, and its diverse habitats the simple kindness of respect and appreciation. While it is still up to everyone to do their share in protecting the environment, these young voices are the driving proponents of future change. Together, we can enhance them so that they may echo and resound around the world, inspiring protective policies that keep our wild plants’ and animals’ best interests in mind. So, we ask everyone – no matter which generation you may be a part of – to #DoOneThingToday to support conservation efforts and help save the world’s wildlife.

Learn more about Dallas Zoo’s wildlife conservation partners, and how you can get involved. Plus, visit our volunteers page and get hands-on with us – kids, too!

Categories: Conservation, Education | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Working towards a ribbiting recovery: Rescuing the dusky gopher frog

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An additional pond created for the dusky gopher frog in DeSoto National Park

An additional pond created for the endangered dusky gopher frogs in DeSoto National Forest.

It was nearly a year ago that Ruston Hartdegen, the Dallas Zoo’s curator of Herpetology, found himself driving deep into the pine woods of the DeSoto National Forest on a mission to save a species on its last leg – the dusky gopher frog.

While the origional 180 tadpoles that Hartdegen picked up have now metamorphed into frogs, the Zoo’s work is not done yet. The dusky gopher frog isIMG_9163 Gopher Frog CS still considered critically endangered with populations endemic to only Glen’s Pond, Mike’s Pond, and McCoy’s Pond within the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi.

These spotted amphibians will remain in human care at the Zoo until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finished developing a full recovery plan for the species. Though the Zoo will retain a number of the frogs as part of the Species Survival Plan program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to identify suitable places for the experimental re-introduction of this species, possibly beginning in 2018.

“The current remaining wild populations are very limited and under intense monitoring. Previous habitats where animals have been extirpated are not likely to recover in a short period of time,” said Hartdegen.

The tadpoles await transport in the research lab at the DeSoto National Forest.

The tadpoles await transport in the research lab at DeSoto National Forest.

In late January, it was Bradley Lawrence, the Zoo’s reptile and amphibian supervisor, who found himself making the nine hour drive back to

the remote Mississippi coast to pick up more tadpoles – but transporting a critically endangered species is no easy task, even the second time around.

The Zoo received four groups of thirty-two tadpoles – over 120 dusky gopher frogs in total. Each group of tadpoles comes from a separate egg mass, meaning that these groups are all of different parentage. In order to drive the tadpoles to the Zoo, these groups were each placed in five gallon buckets filled with water. Using an air pump, oxygen was run to each of the containers for the duration of the trip.

“I tried desperately to keep the tadpoles from shifting around on the drive back. I stopped every couple of hours to check on them,” said Lawrence. “Ultimately, they all made it here safely.”

Like their predecessors, these dusky gopher frogs will be part of the Species Survival Plan program. In the future, some will likely be used in

Bradley Lawrence snaps a selfie with the precious cargo en route to Dallas.

Lawrence snaps a selfie with the precious cargo en route to Dallas.

breeding efforts while others may be released back into their native longleaf pine wetlands – an ecosystem that has been devastated by continued habitat loss. But conservation efforts shouldn’t start and end at the Zoo gates; there’s plenty that you can do at home.

“Many of the world’s amphibians can be helped in the same way whether you live in Texas, Central America, Africa, or wherever: conserve water, don’t pollute, and recycle,” says Lawrence. “Water pollution, loss of habitat, and depleted ground water all hurt amphibian populations.”

Check out these conservation tips from our Green Team that you can follow at home in order to help save the dusky gopher frog.

Categories: Conservation, Education, Reptiles and Amphibians | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take action for wildlife we love

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_MG_7072The Dallas Zoo’s annual We ❤️️ Wildlife event celebrated a different kind of love. Members and guests showed their appreciation for animals, keepers, and conservationists with valentines created at stations across the Zoo. Guests then delivered these cards during keeper talks as a welcomed sign of gratitude for the amazing staff members and animal residents that make the Zoo such a special place. Visitors even crafted cards to be sent to our conservation partners around the world, who contribute to the protection of animals and their habitats. We received hundreds of valentines – talk about feeling the love!

Over 3,000 people took conservation pledges inspired by an array of animals, pushing us even closer to our goal of 30,000 pledges this year!_MG_7292 Families committed to making small changes in their everyday lives in order to practice more sustainable actions that will keep our animal friends safe and healthy. The tiger-inspired pledge to “support companies committed to deforestation-free palm oil and choose FSC certified wood products” received the greatest number of commitments. Plus, an amazing 450 conservation bracelets were purchased with all proceeds directly benefiting the animals they represent.

We had a wonderful weekend and would like to thank everyone who joined us, showing their love and support for wildlife. Our staff and keepers dedicate their lives towards species survival and conservation efforts. Together, through minor, but important, commitments each and every day, we can prevent extinction and help endangered animals flourish once again.

Couldn’t make it out to the Zoo for We ❤️️ Wildlife Weekend? Take a conservation pledge and commit to make small changes at home that will lead to big differences in the wild:

CONSERVATION PLEDGES:_MG_7169

We ❤️️ Gorillas

Our Pledge to Protect Gorillas:

We ❤️️ Elephants

Our Pledge to Protect Elephants:

 We ❤️️ Giraffes

Our Pledge Inspired by Giraffe:

  • We’ll respect & protect native wildlife.
  • We’ll restore wildlife habitat.

We ❤️️ Penguins

Our Pledge to Protect Penguins:

We ❤️️ Wildlife

Our Pledge to Protect Wildlife:

  • We’ll pick up 10 pieces of litter pollution every Tuesday.
  • We’ll use reusable grocery bags.

We ❤️️ Tigers

Our Pledge to Protect Tigers:

We ❤️️ Horned Lizards

Our Pledge to Protect Texas Horned Lizards:

We ❤️️ Flamingos

Our Pledge to Protect Flamingos:

  • We’ll use reusable grocery bags.
  • We’ll pick up 10 pieces of litter pollution every Tuesday.
Categories: Conservation, Education | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A hugely successful year with AAZK

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Russell Pharr, elephant keeper and president of the American Association of Zookeepers Dallas chapter, guest blogs on ZooHoo!

IMG_6203 SFRTwenty-sixteen was a very successful year for the Dallas American Association of Zookeepers Chapter!  We hosted a huge range of great events and, while having an amazing time, helped make the world a better place for animals.

Join us as we take a look back at 2016:

Bowling and Sailing for Rhinos

IMG_6113 SFRThis was our 25th year participating in the 26-year-old Bowling for Rhinos program, and our fifth year partnering with Alley Cats in Arlington.  In addition to bowling, arcade games, miniature golf, and laser tag, we debuted a BFR photo booth, had a bowling pin decorating contest for the second consecutive year, and hosted our first-ever takeover on Dallas Zoo’s Facebook to help promote the event!

Most importantly, Bowling for Rhinos in Dallas raised $18,000 – 100% of which goes directly to save rhinos, cheetahs, and other animals in Kenya and Indonesia. Nationally, AAZK chapters in the U.S. and Canada raised over $600,000 – an all-time record!

Our one-of-a-kind Sailing for Rhinos event raised $6,000 to help AAZK causes. We continued our partnership with Corinthian Sailing Club and had great weather once again for one of our favorite events.

Labor Day Book Sale

Our annual book sale broke records this year, raising more than $2,000 over three days of selling used books, DVDs, and other items donated by the Dallas Zoo community. Profits were split between the Okapi Conservation Project (the okapi was our 2016 “featured animal,” decided by a staff vote in our second annual AAZK March Madness contest) and the Bat World Sanctuary in Weatherford, Texas. Our book sale continued a partnership between Dallas AAZK and the Zoo’s Enrichment Committee as we sold animal-painted magnets and bookmarks, and allowed us the perfect platform to introduce tote bags with our chapter logo printed on them!

Painting with a TwistOther Conservation Events

Our first-ever painting event, the Painting With a Twist for World Giraffe Day in June, not only raised $1,300 for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, but also provided a fun way to honor the memory of Dallas Zoo’s own, late Kipenzi.

Our first-ever Salamander Saturday event in May helped raise funds and awareness for some of nature’s less-appreciated creatures. Our contributed funds also helped the Foundation for Conservation of Salamanders to offer a Texas-specific grant for researchers working on salamanders (and we have some amazing endemic species here)! Read more »

Categories: Conservation, Events, Zookeepers | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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