Tuesday , October 17 2017
Home / San Diego / Zoo pursues dozens of little-known conservation projects

Zoo pursues dozens of little-known conservation projects

Near the entrance to the Safari Park is a world map with markers showing where San Diego Zoo Global’s conservation projects are under way. There are more than 140 in 80 countries on six continents.

Some involve well-known and much-loved species — giant pandas, African elephants, Sumatran tigers, polar bears — but many are for animals and plants that, even though they aren’t the public’s darlings, still play important roles in the ecosystems. Among them:

California Condor: The largest flying birds in North America (wingspan: 10 feet), condors almost disappeared in the 1980s, when fewer than two-dozen existed. Captive breeding and re-introduction programs have brought the population to more than 400, over half of them flying free at release sites in California and Mexico.

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog: Once down to fewer than 200, this amphibian is tricky to breed in captivity, which is why scientists use in vitro fertilization and hormone therapies. Hundreds of tadpoles have been put into mountain streams to boost the population in the wild.

Black-footed Ferret: Thought to be extinct in nature, they were rediscovered in 1981 in a ghastly way: A ranch dog in Wyoming came home with one in its mouth. Captive breeding has produced more than 8,000 kits, with hundreds re-introduced at 18 different sites. Because all the offspring descend from just seven wild-caught ferrets, in-breeding concerns cloud the animal’s long-term sustainability.

San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike: About 20 years ago, only 14 of the birds were alive in the wild, their habitat destroyed by sheep, cattle and goat ranching on the island. All the livestock is gone now, and after some early failures, shrikes are being re-introduced in greater numbers. A captive breeding population is maintained as insurance against future threats.

Aye-aye: The largest of nocturnal lemurs on Madagascar, the aye-aye has unusual middle fingers designed to search out and remove grubs from under tree bark. It is endangered because of poaching and habitat loss, and little is known about its natural behavior. Work with rangers and schoolchildren is aimed at monitoring the lemur’s population and cultivating an appreciation for its role in nature.

john.wilkens@sduniontribune.com


Article Source

About editor

Check Also

Pink gets the party started at KAABOO Del Mar

Pink sure knows how to throw a party on a Saturday night. I’m comin’ up …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *