attwater's blogAs American families prepare for the annual ritual of giving thanks, they can add to their list of things to be thankful for a rare victory in the battle against global climate change – more than 30 endangered species brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to America’s accredited zoos and aquariums.

With climate change, population growth and deforestation, and poaching threatening species around the world, we are facing what scientists call the “Sixth Extinction.”

But the 229 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have built a unique infrastructure to save endangered species – breeding programs that coordinate across many institutions to ensure genetic diversity, systems so that animals can be safely moved between institutions, and partnerships with local, national, and international conservation organizations working on re-introducing these animals to their native ranges.

Here at the Houston Zoo, our zookeepers are working on conservation programs for more than 15 endangered species, including Attwater’s prairie chickens, sea turtles, Houston toad and gorillas.

fruit dove

Because of that infrastructure, there is good news in the face of the extinction crisis:  from the Florida manatee to the California condor, the Hawaiian crow to the Puerto Rican crested toad, the Chinese alligator to the American bison, zoos and aquariums have saved more than 30 species, and are working today on dozens more.

Over the next several months, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will be celebrating these successes, and inviting the public to support efforts to save even more species.  In November, in honor of Thanksgiving, the Houston Zoo is spotlighting endangered birds, including the blue-billed curassow, Marianas fruit dove and the Attwater’s prairie chicken.

Stay tuned as we tell the stories of these incredible animals and the people who are doing great things to help maintain their survival.


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