June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month! Zoos and aquariums may have their issues, but at the end of the day, they do serve some crucial purposes. A local vet lists some of them below.
One of the most striking success stories here is that of the California Condor. These birds came perilously close to extinction: by 1985, there were only nine left in the wild. A massive recovery effort was launched, with several zoos and animal protection agencies participating. They bred and hand raised young condors, which were then released into the wild. Today, there are now more than 400 wild condors.
Zoos are also crucial for conservation efforts. There are now a whopping species listed as endangered, with more on the list as threatened. Zoo-goers can see these animals in the flesh. That can really do a lot in terms of raising awareness and getting people onboard with promoting not only good animal welfare, but also conservation.
Zoos and aquariums also often rehabilitate injured animals, and then release them into the wild. They often work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this area.
One of the best things about zoos is the way they help raise awareness, not only about the animals themselves, but also about the many issues wild animals are facing. Loss of habitat, pollution, invasive species, and climate change can all have a devastating impact on delicate ecosystems and the wildlife they support.
Last but certainly not least, zoos and aquariums offer a very special and rare opportunity to see and interact with animals one would rarely, if ever, encounter in the wild. This can be particularly beneficial for children. Taking your little ones to the zoo is also a great time to talk to them about our animal companions, and how important it is to be kind to them.
As with any other industries, zoos vary widely in terms of their ethics and aims. There are some truly wonderful ones out there, which are strongly committed to their residents. Unfortunately, there are also some that are more interested in profit than protection. Your best bet is to stick with ones that have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
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