Every day the El Paso Zoo creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connections to nature. The animals that live here are conservation ambassadors for their species and habitats around the world. Their wild relatives live in the mountains and deserts around El Paso and in far way lands in South America, Africa and Asia. As you walk through the Zoo and learn more about them it soon becomes clear that many are endangered. Habitat loss and other factors, most often related to the activities of humans, are having a devastating toll on wildlife everywhere. A growing number of scientists are predicting that we are on the brink of the world’s sixth major extinction.
What can we do to help? There are countless ways we can get involved by supporting conservation efforts and lessening our impact on the environment in our everyday lives. We can even help during our visit to the zoo by rounding up our food and gift purchases.
Thanks to dedicated zoo employees working for Service Systems and Associates(SSA) we are now reaching thousands of zoo guests in enlisting support for our conservation efforts. Every day at the Zoo visitors are encouraged to round up their purchases at the gift shop, zoo restaurants and food stands. The money raised goes to support wildlife field conservation efforts across the globe. For example our Conservation Committee has launched a new effort focused on supporting Zoo conservation efforts to help endangered bolson tortoises in New Mexico, African lions in Kenya and Tanzania and critically endangered Sumatran orangutans in Indonesia. Over the past two years thousands of Zoo visitors have supported the program resulting in over $18,000 in donations in support of a wide array of conservation efforts.
The diversity of life on earth is critical to the survival of humanity and finding ways to involve more people in helping to make the actions of humanity sustainable is top of mind for thousands of institutions and conservation organizations around the world.
In addition to helping to gain more support for tortoises, lions and orangutans Round Up Funds are also being used in support conservation efforts to help save critically endangered Vaquita porpoises in the northern part of the Gulf of California, black-footed ferrets in Arizona, Asian elephants on the island of Sumatra and the critically endangered Mexican wolf that used to roam across the Southwest US and northern Mexico including El Paso.
This past October and November Round Up Funds helped the Zoo send three teams of zoo employees to help with Mexican wolf conservation efforts in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Two teams helped repair barbed wire fences that corral cattle and keep them from wandering into wolf hunting ranges. A third team on November 30th helped to transport a pack of 11 wolves traveling from Wolf Haven International in Washington State to a rendezvous point in New Mexico where they were then met by Mexican officials to take to a reintroduction site in Mexico. The group of eleven Mexican gray wolves were soon released in the wilds of northern Chihuahua, Mexico. It was the 10th release in Mexico bringing the total number of released wolves to 39 with the current wild population estimated to be about 30 wolves.
Next time you visit the zoo be sure to round up your purchases. Together we can make a difference, even while we experience a part of the world right here in our own backyard.