Archive: Endangered Species Day Turns Focus to Animals on the Brink of Extinction

Detroit Zoological Society highlights wildlife conservation initiatives in short film

May 15, 2017

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) contributes to wildlife conservation worldwide and, in some cases, has led the revival of species on the brink of extinction. Four of these conservation initiatives are highlighted in an 11-minute video that will be shown in the Changing Exhibit Gallery of the Detroit Zoo’s Ford Education Center on Endangered Species Day – Friday, May 19 – at the top of every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The screenings are free with Zoo admission.

“Wildlife are facing great challenges – from the changing climate and habitat loss to poaching and the exotic animal trade – leaving many species threatened or teetering on the brink of extinction,” said Ron Kagan, DZS executive director and CEO. “As guardians of wildlife, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect the magnificent creatures that walk, slither, swim, fly and waddle among us.”

The film showcases four of the DZS’s wildlife conservation efforts spanning six continents and involving species from penguins and snow leopards to gorillas and golden frogs.

Among these initiatives is a partnership with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which provides a home for orphaned Grauer’s gorillas whose parents were killed by poachers. The DZS assists the GRACE staff with veterinary care – providing wellness exams on the gorillas living there – and with the development of humane education programs for children and adults in nearby communities, helping to foster behavioral changes that result in a positive impact for people, animals and their shared home. The DZS also supported construction for a night house for the gorillas and a road that makes it easier to deliver supplies to GRACE. The DZS was recently honored for its work with GRACE, along with eight other accredited zoos, with the International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

With amphibians around the globe facing mass extinction – nearly half of the more than 7,600 known species are at risk – the DZS is working to reverse the crisis. As one of nearly 100 cooperative breeding programs in which the DZS is involved, efforts are underway to maintain and increase a population of Panamanian golden frogs in bio-secure rooms at the Detroit Zoo’s National Amphibian Conservation Center. This species is thought to be extinct in the wild and work is being done to establish protected areas with the hope of an eventual reintroduction.

The DZS is actively working to conserve snow leopards in China and Nepal in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust and other organizations. These partnerships are working to create sustainable conservation programs that benefit both snow leopards and the local communities that share these mountain habitats.

The DZS has also partnered with the Polar Oceans Research Group in Antarctica to study and conserve penguins and other seabirds with struggling populations amidst a changing climate. As the only continent on Earth without a native human population – and with the harshest and most extreme climate in the world – Antarctica presents a unique, natural laboratory for scientific research. That challenging climate is considered vital to understanding ecosystems and humans’ impact on the planet.

“Through these efforts and others around the globe, we are helping to ensure the long-term survival of critically endangered amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and invertebrates that represent the diversity of life on our planet,” Kagan said.