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Celebrate Endangered Species Day!

Declared by U.S. Congress in 2006, every third Friday in May is Endangered Species Day, a day to celebrate and protect our wildlife and wild places. Here at the Cincinnati Zoo, however, every day is Endangered Species Day. We work tirelessly to make emotional connections between people and wildlife, raise conservation awareness and promote ways everyone can take action to make a difference for wildlife.

Want to do something today to help save wildlife in honor of Endangered Species Day? How about helping us protect elephants?

Sabu, our male Asian elephant (Photo: David Jenike)

Sabu, our male Asian elephant (Photo: David Jenike)

As a coalition partner with more than 125 institutions, the Zoo works with the 96 Elephants campaign to protect elephants from poaching for their ivory tusks in the wild. The United States is the second largest ivory consumer nation behind China. While the recent strengthening of federal restrictions on the sale of ivory is a critical step towards ending the illegal ivory trade in the United States, state regulations are also necessary.

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Join the effort by taking the pledge at www.96elephants.org to not to buy or sell ivory and to support a moratorium on ivory products in our country.

You can also participate in a letter writing campaign. On World Elephant Day, August 12, the campaign hopes to deliver 96,000 letters and drawings from people around the country to state legislators in support of a ban on the sale of ivory by state. Over the next couple of months, Zoo guests can draw or color pictures and write letters expressing what elephants mean to them at our Elephant Wild Discover Zone. We will collect the letters and drawings to deliver them to Governor Kasich on World Elephant Day. Be sure to stop by next time you’re at the Zoo!

If you can’t make it to Zoo, you can download the letter template from our website here, and send it to me in time for the August 12 delivery to the governor.

And remember, just by coming to the Zoo, you are helping us save endangered species every day. So come on out and play!

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May 16, 2014   No Comments

Graduation for Zoo Academy Seniors is Just Around the Corner

Guest blogger: Markala Washington Murray, Zoo Academy Senior

Hello! It’s Markala again. Previously I talked to you about what it’s like to be a Zoo student and where you apply to become a Zoo student (read that post here). It is now the end of my senior year here at the Zoo Academy. It’s both a sad time and a happy time for all us seniors; it marks both a beginning and an end to an incredible journey and tells us that we are ready for our next adventure to begin. But before I tell you that, let me tell you where I am right now.

As seniors, we have a big project to do called a Capstone. A Capstone is a reflection on what we have done over the past two years. You pick one subject that you would like to improve in an area in your field of study. Then you write a report on your subject and create a poster. The poster is a recap of what you have learned over the senior year and how you felt you did on your overall project. Lastly, you put together a portfolio of all the things you used to help you create and improve your project.

For my project, I focused on the protection and conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I chose this subject because of the wolves we have here at the Zoo; our wolves are unable to be reintroduced, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does have a reintroduction program to help bring the population of the Mexican gray wolves back to where they use to be about a hundred years ago. However, now that the numbers have “reached agricultural success”, they have now declared an open hunting season for the wolves.

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Our wolf exhibit is in an area called Wolf Woods that doesn’t get very much attention from visitors because it’s tucked behind our train station. So this made me want to tell the story of the wolves. For my project, I created a class to teach others about the conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I used our senior and junior classes here at the Zoo Academy. First, I gave a short lecture on all of my findings on the wolves. Then I showed a video on the open hunting season. Lastly, I had my class do a scavenger hunt in the Wolf Woods exhibit. After doing this project, I now have I much greater respect for both the people and the wolves that have to live together.

Here I'm teaching the class.

Here I’m teaching the class.

Here I am with my poster.

Here I am with my poster.

Leaving the Zoo makes me sad because I now have to leave all the great people and animals I have befriended. I am now going on to the next step in my life. I have recently been accepted in to the school for animal behavior studies and associate science at Hocking College. Hocking is a two-year institution that focuses on nature education. I can’t wait to start in the fall!

April 30, 2014   No Comments

Earth Week: Helping Birds in Your Own Backyard!

Guest blogger: Sophie Williams, Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) student and consultant on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation

This week, we at the Cincinnati Zoo are celebrating Earth Week! Earth Week surrounds Earth Day, an annual worldwide event where we recognize and support environmental protection and conservation efforts across the globe. In the midst of work on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation, I can’t help but think of Martha, the world’s last passenger pigeon, during this week, almost 100 years after her passing. Despite the loss of this species, Martha’s legacy and the occasion of Earth Week provide us with a great opportunity to think about how we might protect other species today.

Not only can you learn more about conservation programs at the Cincinnati Zoo, you can get involved in species conservation in your own backyard! There are many programs specifically targeted toward bird lovers, which we will highlight this week in honor of Martha.

Hummingbird (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Hummingbird (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Check out these great programs to get started:

International Migratory Bird Day—International Migratory Bird Day is coming up soon. This day in mid-May celebrates the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Of course Bird Day is not just a day; IMBD invites us to celebrate birds every day of the year!

Celebrate Urban Birds—We’re all close to birds, even in large cities like Cincinnati. Check out Celebrate Urban Birds for more on urban bird watching.

NestWatch—Have a nest in your yard or near your school? NestWatch, a program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a nationwide monitoring program designed to track nesting patterns of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. NestWatch is easy and is a great activity for families! Become a certified NestWatcher using the helpful tips on the organization’s site, and record your findings to help researchers and scientists gather essential information on reproductive biology of birds.

Ebird—With Ebird, you can submit your observations of birds anytime! This program, launched by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, allows you to create maps and lists of the birds you’ve seen, and share your observations with other birders. Your observations will join those from around the world and contribute to a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere.

Get ready for next winter:

Project FeederWatch—Cornell Lab of Ornithology organizes this winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, and other areas across North America. FeederWatchers count the birds they see at their feeders, helping scientists track movements of bird populations.

Christmas Bird Count—The Audubon Society organizes the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, which provides critical data on population trends.

What will you see in your backyard this Earth Week?

Cardinal (Photo: Eric J. Brock)

Cardinal (Photo: Eric J. Brock)

To read the other posts in this series, click here. Join us in May as we discuss how you can make a difference and keep other wildlife from going the way of the passenger pigeon.

April 23, 2014   1 Comment