Working through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Roger Williams Park Zoo announced today their commitment to work in conjunction with the government of Mexico to save the vaquita porpoise - the world’s most endangered marine mammal.
According to Dr. Jeremy Goodman, executive director of Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Roger Williams Park Zoo along with over 100 other zoos and aquariums accredited by the AZA have pledged more than $1million for this effort. He also said that the Mexican government is pledging $3million to support the non-profit vaquitacpr.org to save these mammals that swim in their waters. “Sadly,” says Goodman, “the entire population of vaquita porpoises is down to 30 animals, half of what was alive last year. We are committing time and resources to saving this vital mammal. We cannot undertake this effort alone. Therefore, we are asking the public to join us in saving this species in a way that is both fun and educational.” Goodman explains that on Thursday, April 20 during the Zoo’s annual Party for the Planet, Yarrow Thorne’s The Avenue Concept, a pop-up interactive art wall, will work with the Zoo to make everyone aware of the plight of the vaquita porpoise. Yarrow will draw a scene, which includes the vaquita in native waters, so guests may both learn about the animal and be part of the interactive art wall. Additionally, for those interested vaquita conservation bracelets will be for sale at both the Zoo and Carousel Village, and all donations made at the Zoo’s retail shops will go towards saving the vaquita this year.
Scientists suggest that the vaquita (Spanish: [baˈkita]; Phocoena sinus) is a rare species of porpoise endemic to the northern part of the Gulf of California. In 1996, this porpoise appeared on the list of critically endangered species. In 1997, there were only 600, and by 2014, the number of surviving vaquita porpoises was 100. As of November 2016 only 30 remain.
The Mexican government along with American zoos and aquariums are urging:
- • the end to illegal fishing in the vaquita habitat;
- • the removal of gillnets from the vaquita’s environment through the permanent ban of all gillnets;
- • the immediate intervention to temporarily move some of the remaining animals to a sanctuary environment until their habitat is free of gillnets, and illegal fishing ends.
As Dr. Jeremy Goodman states, “At Roger Williams Park Zoo we are committed to helping all species survive. Every animal no matter how big or small, cuddly, scaly or slimy has a place in the ecosystem. Our efforts to save the vaquita reinforce what we must do – ensure all living beings survive and thrive on this planet. Doing nothing and watching a species go extinct in our lifetime is not an option.”
For more information on saving the vaquita porpoise, and how you can help during Party for the Planet please go to rwpzoo.org.
Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the nation, is Rhode Island’s number one outdoor family and tourist attraction, and is a leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. The Zoo has received numerous awards for environmental education, and conservation work done locally and around the world, caring for species that without human intervention would face certain extinction. Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.
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