Powell, OH – The last act for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Conservation Committee in 2010 was to establish a special fund in recognition of 2011 as Year of the Turtle. The Zoo will join the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and other conservation partners to support priority field projects and raise awareness about the plight of the world’s turtles and tortoises.
In addition to saving animals in the wild the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has a long history of working with reptiles, especially freshwater turtles and tortoises. During the 1970’s through the 1990’s, the Zoo had several notable accomplishments, including the first zoological breedings of giant Asian pond turtles, gibba turtles, and Adanson’s turtles. Other significant breedings include painted terrapins, Roti Island snake-necked turtles, and Vietnam pond turtles, all of which are designated as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).The Zoo has also bred seven different species of map turtles. In total, at least 40 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises have been bred at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Although turtles have been on our planet since the Triassic Period (over 220 million years ago), they are now at the top of the list of species disappearing from the planet. Over 40% of freshwater turtle species are threatened worldwide – more than any other animal group. North America is a biodiversity hotspot, home to nearly 20% of all known turtle species. For more information on Year of the Turtle, visit www.yearoftheturtle.org
During 2010, the Columbus Zoo and Partners in Conservation (PIC) awarded more than $1 million in conservation grants to 70 projects in 30 countries. Two emergency grants were rushed to sanctuaries in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo following the confiscation of hundreds of endangered African grey parrots. Headed for the pet trade, the birds require months of rehabilitation before they can be released back to the wild. The Zoo supports long-term field projects for all four species of great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans) and provides financial and logistical support to the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA). Collaborating with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Columbus Zoo joined the Ape TAG Initiative as a platinum member in 2010.
The Zoo’s Polar Bear Conservation Fund, established in 2008, provides grants to top polar bear scientists working in Alaska and Canada. In 2010, the Zoo became a partner in the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, based in Manitoba, Canada. Among other functions, the Centre will act as a transition facility for orphaned cubs and other compromised polar bears.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Conservation Fund is made possible by the generosity of individual and corporate donors, on-site fundraising efforts such as coin collection walls at various animal habitats, and monies raised at events including Wine for Wildlife and the Rwandan Fete.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.