My readers know well my passion for animals, both wild and domestic. My interest started at a tender age with visits to the Bronx Zoo – you can read about it here. When I was young I didn’t realize that the enclosures (cages) were not adequate, not only being too small but also providing no physical and emotional stimulation/enrichment for the animals, causing the animals stress and unhappiness. At the time, animals were treated like curious oddities and it took many many years before people realized that these living treasures need so much more to ensure their survival.
Although there are certain people who don’t see the need or just don’t care about the future health of earth’s wildlife populations there are thankfully many who have given their hearts and minds to the task of protecting our beautiful wildlife. A great example of this verve is the not-for-profit Auckland Zoo. Their mission statement is not only to protect the flora and fauna of New Zealand but those of the world.
Here is a piece of promotion from the website:
- Since opening on 17 December 1922, Auckland Zoo has evolved to become an active conservation organisation and has welcomed over 28 million visitors.
- Key amongst our work is our ability to care for wildlife and to engage everyone with the wonder of the natural world.
- We work together, with our colleagues and our communities, to foster discovery of the natural world, inspire action for wildlife and create hope for its future. We lead by example, with optimism, with expertise and with passion.
- Auckland Zoo is a winner of national and international awards, is at the leading-edge of wildlife research, conservation work and innovative exhibits.
Of course a premier focus of the Auckland Zoo is the preservation and maintenance of the endemic species of New Zealand – I have shown you some of their constituents such as kiwi, and morepork owl. There are other endemic animal species that they are trying to keep extant such as the little fellow at the top of this post – the tuatara.
Tuatara are rare, medium-sized reptiles and their most amazing characteristic is that they are the last survivors of an order of reptiles that thrived in the age of the dinosaurs back some 200 million years ago. Now, as is the case for so many of New Zealand endemic animals they are very threatened by the slew of introduced predators such as rats. The good news is that there has been success in the captive incubation and raising of tuatara that are then taken to remote islands that they presumably inhabited in the past. These island are rat-free due to eradication efforts so there is a fighting chance that the tuatara population will regain strength. The great news is sans predation, the lifespan of tuatara can range from 60 – 100 years.
The zoo’s conservation and preservation efforts also extend to many other animals, both endemic and worldwide. Here is a small collection of some of the gorgeous wildlife that is thriving under the zoo’s care. See which ones you recognize:
We should all reflect on how sad our world would be without this magnificent menagerie.