Big Year of Conservation at ABQ BioPark
ABQ BioPark Aquarist Sara Hamilton and another diver in Curacao. Photo courtesy of Paul Selvaggio of the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.
11/07/2016 - ABQ BioPark visitors come to see the facilities' animal and plant collections, but behind the scenes staff members also are working hard to make the world a better place through conservation.
"Conservation is one of the ABQ BioPark's core missions and our staff members actively contribute to local, regional and international conservation initiatives," said Holly Casman, ABQ BioPark interim director. "Our Conservation Committee takes action on issues like pro-wildlife policy advocacy, on-the-ground conservation initiatives, eco-friendly operations management and more."
International Conservation Trips
Each year, the Conservation Committee sponsors staff to go abroad to work on conservation projects. In 2016, seven staff participated in three international trips:
- Five staff traveled to the Abidjan Zoo in the Ivory Coast to continue a conservation partnership for the West African slender-snouted crocodile, and a wild release could occur in the next year.
- Senior Zookeeper Lisa Moore went to Namibia as part of the Earth Expeditions program to study cheetah conservation.
- Aquarist Sara Hamilton traveled to Curacao for a coral conservation project.
Members of the conservation committee monitor several wildlife camera traps in the Sandia Mountains. The ABQ BioPark also works to conserve a number of local species through special breeding programs.
Citizen Science Initiatives
This year, the herpetology department kicked off a successful trial season for Frogwatch, a citizen science program that helps frogs and toads, which are struggling to survive because of chytrid fungus. Participants report data on frog and toad calls.
The ABQ BioPark, in conjunction with other conservation-minded organizations, is asking state and national senators and representatives to sponsor and/or support pro-wildlife legislation. ABQ BioPark representatives urged U.S. Sen. Tom Udall earlier this year to support the END Wildlife Trafficking Act, which was passed by the US House and Senate and signed by President Obama in October.
In 2016, the ABQ BioPark held several Science Café events in Albuquerque breweries to educate community members about issues facing wildlife and what they can do to make a difference. The BioPark also partnered with Defenders of Wildlife and The Guild Cinema for two conservation-minded movie screenings this year and hosted its first annual "Crush the Shell Trade" to draw awareness to the devastating international trade of marine animals.
Thanks to donations from the community, the ABQ BioPark raised more than one ton of jeans for Jeans for Giraffes during the summer. Jeans for Giraffes recycles denim to raise money for giraffe conservation.
The ABQ BioPark takes part in a number of other conservation initiatives. More information can be found online.