Helping Global Conservation Refugees

Posted on July 31

For species extinct in the wild, such as the Guam Kingfisher, the value of zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens is crystal clear: their existence hinges on the support of these organizations.

The Calgary Zoo is the Global Secretariat of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Conservation Translocation Specialist Group (CTSG), which is tasked with the recovery of many species all over the world. The Calgary Zoo, in collaboration with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and co-authors are pleased to announce that they have published a letter today in the world-leading journal ‘Science’ to outline the crucial role zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens play as ‘lifeboats’ for species that are actually extinct in the wild. Crucially the publication raises alarm that financial pressures due to Covid-19 on these organizations could mean these species may be lost forever.

At least 77 species across the globe rely on funding support and carefully executed recovery plans to allow their return to the wilderness. The Calgary Zoo, with IUCN SSC CTSG partners, recently launched an Extinct-in-The Wild international task force to save species that precariously hover on the edge of extinction. An example of such inspiring work is the international partnership that the Calgary Zoo is proud to be part of to enable the reintroduction of the Guam Kingfisher, a bird that has not existed in its wild habitat for over 30 years.  (Photo credit: Dr. John Ewen)

read the full publication here