The Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife is a groundbreaking collaboration aiming to rebuild populations of rare and endangered zoo animals and birds in a unique new facility in New Orleans
Time is running out for many species of wildlife. Dwindling populations mean that zoos can often no longer introduce their visitors to beloved species such as giraffe and okapi. But Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global hope to reverse the trend and are building a unique joint resource that they hope will be the first of many such initiatives around the world.
The Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife has a simple yet vital aim: to maintain and build populations of rare and endangered species of mammals and birds. Not only will it help protect vulnerable species as a whole, it will also allow zoos and aquariums to replenish shrinking animal collections.
A 1, 000 acre site has been set aside for the project at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center on New Orleans’ West Bank and construction will begin in March 2014. The project will come to fruition over the next four years but the first animals could arrive on site as early as October 2014.
More than two dozen mammal and bird species form the Alliance’s initial focus: including giraffe, okapi and bongos alongside flamingos, storks and pelicans. The site is extensive enough to allow the animals freedom to roam in large open areas, replicating their natural environments. The early building stages will mainly involve road-building and fence erection, with new barns being built for the giraffe and okapi.
Both organisations are individually well-known for their dedication to the protection of wildlife but the Alliance ushers in a new level of collaboration, pointing the way towards a new era of joint enterprises committed to solving the problems of endangered wildlife.
Douglas G. Myers, President of San Diego Zoo Global, stressed the urgent need for this programme yesterday at a ceremony to break ground for the species-saving center. “We are in a critical era where species are disappearing almost every day, ” he said.
Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO said that the project was breaking new ground – both literally and figuratively. “These facilities, which will breed an important collection of declining species, symbolize how the alliance between Audubon Nature Institute and the San Diego Zoo creates a new model for collaboration, accelerating our efforts on behalf of wildlife conservation.”
Myers and Forman hope that their example will start a trend that could spread around the world, combating extinction and allowing all species to be preserved for future generations.
The ceremony was also attended by local representatives, including New Orleans City Council members Jackie Clarkson and Kristin Palmer and State Representatives Bryan Adams, Ebony Woodruff and Christopher Leopold.