A new national report shows the good work being done by top zoos – including Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon.
The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top ten reptiles and amphibians benefitting from the help of its members.
Featured on the list is the golden mantella frog from Madagascar, one of the many important species with which Paignton Zoo works. Unusually, these Critically Endangered frogs don’t croak. Instead, males attract females with a series of clicking noises.
Mike Bungard, Paignton Zoo’s Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates and a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Amphibian Specialist Group: “Amphibians are in trouble, and Madagascar’s amphibians are in BIG trouble. I believe we have a moral obligation to help protect biodiversity. Golden mantellas will die out in the wild unless we act now.”
Dr Andrew Marshall, of BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee, said: “Zoos are part of a global conservation community. We have focused on ten examples of reptiles and amphibians that zoos are working to save from extinction. The list includes some fantastic species, many of which are facing a dramatic decline and are in a desperate situation in the wild.”
The top ten list demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to the funding and management of conservation projects in the field, including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.
Devon-based TV presenter and naturalist Nick Baker, who is supporting the Top Ten campaign to raise awareness of these species and the work zoos are doing, said:
“Zoos and aquariums have a very important role. At the scariest level they are the ark. They are where the insurance populations of these animals can be looked after and understood and studied. They are also very important in being that interface between these animals and the public.
“The problem with these animals is also they are not furry; they do not have an instant appeal to the masses. As a consequence they can get forgotten. When zoos show them to the world you are reaching people and spreading that word and getting people to appreciate what these animals are about.”
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 0844 474 2222.