Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Chicago Zoological Society Names Top 10 Conservation Actions in 2015

In a year of intensified global discussions on the need to protect wildlife and address climate change, the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which operates Brookfield Zoo, increased its commitment to conservation work that protects wildlife on a local, national, and global scale.
“We are deeply committed to creative approaches to protecting wildlife and habitats. Our scientists, educators, staff, and volunteers are making a significant difference in animal care and conservation, and we are inspiring our more than 2 million annual visitors to take actions that help,” said CZS President and CEO Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., citing dozens of zoo programs and projects that help wildlife.
CZS’s Top 10 conservation actions in 2015 are:

  • Leading field research to benefit dolphins and penguins. CZS researchers lead significant field research projects for bottlenose dolphins and Humboldt penguins. CZS’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) conducts the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population, following the lives of the up to five concurrent generations of year-round, multidecadal residents, including individuals up to 65 years of age. The work involves health assessments, regular surveys of the dolphins and their prey fish, and conservation capacity building through training of graduate, undergraduate students, and researchers from around the world. In 2015, the Sarasota Bay dolphins were used as a crucial reference population for an investigation of impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on dolphin health, survival, and reproduction. Researchers consulted on recovery plans for endangered species, and the team’s efforts resulted in 16 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

    Also, CZS continues its fieldwork at Punta San Juan in Peru, South America, where staff conduct valuable research in collaboration with other institutions to produce scientific knowledge for the development of tools that is aiding in the conservation and management of an ecologically viable marine protected area, which is home to Humboldt penguins and other bird species as well as South American fur seals and sea lions. CZS staff travel annually to Punta San to advance a population health assessment project that began in 2007.
  • Saving regional species. Taking care of local nature is a priority for CZS, as researchers helped several local species. Examples include working with the Forest Preserves of Cook County to implant a transmitter in an urban river otter, allowing wildlife biologists to track how the animal moves; implanting radio transmitter chips into various fish species so that wildlife biologists can better understand the needs of the fishes’ habitat; raising endangered Blanding’s and ornate box turtles and releasing them into forest preserve habitats; and planting native plants throughout Brookfield Zoo's 216 acres to create habitat for butterflies, dragonflies, and other important pollinators.
  • Advancing the Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare. CZS continued to broaden its work in animal care by applying new scientific tools to ensure that animals in the zoo are thriving. Thanks to CZS’s Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare, new behavioral enrichments in living spaces are designed to keep animals engaged and active.
  • Leaders sharing expertise globally. CZS staff commit time and talent to advancing animal care, education, and conservation through leadership in national and international groups. These staff include Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, vice president of clinical medicine, serving on the executive board of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians as the organization’s vice president, and Randall Wells, Ph.D., program director for the Society's Sarasota Dolphin Research Program and CZS senior conservation scientist, named one of nine members of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission’s Committee of Scientific Advisors to consult on marine mammal conservation issues of national and international importance.
  • First Wildlife Conservation Expo. In May, CZS partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Network and the Forest Preserves of Cook County to present the first Wildlife Conservation Expo, bringing global conservation organizations together for the benefit of Brookfield Zoo guests. Global leaders in conservation from Vital Ground, Snow Leopard Conservancy, Save the Elephants, Punta San Juan, and Ewaso Lions gave inspiring presentations during the event.
  • More teens joining the King Conservation Scholars Program. The program—which provides engaging way for teens to learn more about animals and conservation, network with others, and make a difference in their communities while preparing for college and future careers—grew by 50 percent this year. The huge increase in participants represents a growing understanding among youth of the importance of protecting animals and their environments.
  • Many endangered species births. Brookfield Zoo welcomed several offspring of endangered species, including a western lowland gorilla, snow leopards, Mexican gray wolves, a Grevy’s zebra, and an okapi calf, the latter for which Brookfield Zoo is a global leader in births, with 27 since 1959.
  • Providing a home for rescued sea lions. Brookfield Zoo became home for three California sea lions, including two pups named Kanuk and Kodiak, who were found starved and malnourished several times by rescue workers. The third California sea lion, Tanner, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in June on a breeding loan from Shedd Aquarium, where he resided since his rescue in spring 2012.
  • Three dolphin calves celebrating milestone birthdays. Bottlenose dolphin calf Maxine celebrated her first birthday, while Magic and Merlin celebrated their second birthdays in Brookfield Zoo's dolphin family. Magic is one of the few dolphins ever to be successfully raised by animal care experts and exemplifies CZS's advanced animal care.
  • Up-close experiences in the new Hamill Family Wild Encounters. In July, Brookfield Zoo opened a new interactive exhibit that creates extraordinary experiences for guests, who can interact with and get up close to many of the zoo's animal ambassadors. These experiences inspire people to care more deeply about wildlife.
Posted: 12/31/2015 8:07:09 AM by Steve Pine Filed under: conservation

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