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Modern zoos and aquariums are leaders in biodiversity conservation

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Zoos and aquariums worldwide receive more than 700 Mio visitors annually and spend about US$ 350 Mio on wildlife conservation each year.

For a worldwide survey, conducted on the occasion of the World Environment Day on June 5th, WAZA approached 12 national and regional zoo and aquarium associations, covering all regions of the world, to provide a figure regarding the following two questions: How many visitors did your member institutions receive annually and how much money was spent on wildlife conservation by your member institutions. (Wildlife conservation in this context encompasses in situ conservation of wild species and habitats, including related ex situ work).

“We have to make clear, that zoos and aquariums worldwide provide a valuable contribution to the protection of biodiversity”, says Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director of the World Association or Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). “For some species, like the California Condor, zoos played a crucial role for their survival. Experts from zoos and aquariums contribute enormously to the protection of endangered species which otherwise would be lost forever. Currently amphibians and corals face extinction threat and are on top of our agenda.”

Zoos and aquariums worldwide receive more than 700 Mio visitors annually. This figure is unparalleled by any other global group of conservation oriented institutions. This corresponds to 11% of the global human population, indicating that about one in ten people experience human–animal interactions at zoos and aquariums each year. Visitors are not only the targets of environmental education but also a primary source of funding for zoos and aquariums. The world zoo and aquarium community reportedly spent about US$ 350 Mio on wildlife conservation. This amount is most certainly an underestimate, given that only about half of the associations’ submitted figures on conservation expenditures. The figures on visitor numbers and financial expenditures suggest that the world zoo and aquarium community plays an important role in environmental education and conservation of endangered species. Two examples of species conservation projects include the Cat Ba Langur in Vietnam and the Snowleopard in Mongolia.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the unifying organization for the world zoo and aquarium community. Its over 300 members include leading zoos and aquariums, regional and national associations of zoos and aquariums, as well as some affiliate organizations from all around the world. Together, we are: “United for Conservation” 

WAZA is partner of the UN Year of Biodiversity 2010

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