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Endangered Species “Vanishing” at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

SAFE AZA 

The “vanishing” animals are part of a national effort to highlight the growing extinction crisis.

Sanford, Florida (May 15, 2015) – Today is the 10th Anniversary of Endangered Species Day, and to highlight the growing importance of working on saving endangered species from extinction, the Central Florida Zoo will have two endangered animals “vanish” from their exhibits on Saturday, May 16, 2015 when the Zoo will be celebrating Endangered Species Day.

"What would happen if there were no more cheetahs or lemurs left on our planet? That would be terrible," said Philip Flynn, Central Florida Zoo President & CEO. "Thankfully, we are in a position to do something about saving endangered species. That is why tomorrow, we are asking our visitors to pause and consider what extinction looks and feels like in a collaborative effort to motivate and inspire them to join the Central Florida Zoo and other accredited zoos and aquariums in our efforts to save animals from extinction."

The vanishing animals from the Central Florida Zoo are part of a larger, national effort organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, of which the Central Florida Zoo is a member. Specifically, the 229-accredited members of the AZA are coming together in a variety of ways to help the public consider what it would be like to not be able to see, learn from or connect with these incredible animals again. This is to raise awareness of the efforts to save animals from extinction and to help launch AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE).

For decades, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been leaders in species survival, and are already working to restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor and a variety of aquatic species.

Through SAFE, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will convene scientists and stakeholders globally to identify the factors threatening species, develop Conservation Action Plans, collect new resources and engage the public.

In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for the next 10 years. The inaugural 10 species include: African penguin, Asian elephants, Black rhinoceros, cheetah, gorilla, sea turtles, vaquita, sharks and rays, Western pond turtle and Whooping Crane.

“AZA aquarium and zoo conservationists have identified more than 100 species facing the greatest threats and where accredited zoos and aquariums have unique conservation and science knowledge to contribute,” Jim Maddy, AZA President and CEO, said. “Today, we’re demonstrating just how profound the loss would be if we don’t take action now to protect wildlife. More importantly, we are also explaining to the public just what AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are doing to save animals from extinction.”

The Central Florida Zoo's mission statement states that it is "a conservation resource providing experiences that excite and inspire children and adults to learn and act on behalf of wildlife". To this end, the Zoo is involved with many conservation efforts, including the Zoo's Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation which is dedicated to the reintroduction of the endangered eastern indigo snake to its native areas. The Zoo currently participates in 32 AZA Species Survival Plans (SSPs), which are managed breeding programs for individual species that are vanishing from the wild. In fact, the Zoo has had several births in recent years of animals with a SSP program, including the clouded leopard and cotton-top tamarins. Furthermore, the Zoo invites guests to "round-up" their admission costs to the next dollar, with the difference going to select conservation organizations. The Zoo also celebrates different animal conservation days throughout the year to raise money and awareness for endangered species. As mentioned earlier, the Endangered Species Day celebration at the Zoo will take place Saturday, May 16, 2015, and during this event two of the endangered species at the Zoo will be "vanishing" in order for guests to really appreciate what that means. Guests will learn how they can help through fun activities and taking a pledge to participate in an action that will directly benefit endangered animals.

Public Asked to Help Save Animals from Extinction

One of the easiest conservation actions the public can take is to visit the Central Florida Zoo. Doing so directly supports the collaborative efforts of hundreds of researchers, field conservationists and scientists from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums working to save animals from extinction.

For more information, visit www.centralfloridazoo.org and follow the online conversation on May 15 via #savingspecies.

About the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens - The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a 132 acre, 501 (C) 3 not-for-profit conservation resource providing experiences that excite and inspire children and adults to learn and act on behalf of wildlife. For more information regarding the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens visit www.centralfloridazoo.org or call 407.323.4450. The Zoo is located on I-4 Exit 104 in Sanford and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

About AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction
AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo & aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit AZAsavingspecies.org.

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