The month of June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month. This month started to be dedicated to zoos in 1982 by President Ronald Regan. Throughout June, zoos are celebrated to honor their research, conservation and education efforts they do.
To celebrate we want to share the conservation efforts zoos are doing and how For Elephants is helping them with elephant research.
The history of zoos
Zoos have been around for many years. In fact, they can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamia. Though animals during this era were not displayed for the public, but to showcase a king's wealth. As years passed, zoos started to show up in civilizations like China, Greece and Rome. The first zoo in the Western Hemisphere was in Mexico by the Aztec emperor Montezuma II.
Zoos started to evolve and become public spaces during the Enlightenment Period. The interest of studying animal behavior rose and more zoos began to make animal spaces look like their habitat. In 1793, the first modern zoo was built in Paris, France. To this day, this zoo still has animals and is busy. In today's age, zoos have evolved from just being a form of entertainment. These organizations now play a crucial role in wildlife conservation.
What do zoos do for the wildlife?
Zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) practice conservation actions that include species reintroduction programs, species survival programs and financially support conservation programs in the wild. Zoos also help endangered species. They help breed endangered species to help those animals have healthy and self-sustaining populations - that are genetically diverse.
Educate the public
The animals in zoos help the general public to understand what animals need in the wild to survive and why they need to be saved. Elephant, panda and tiger populations are diminishing because they are losing habitats or being poached for trade. Zoos educate people about the actions they can take to save these animals from extinction.
Besides zoos taking care of animals, they also study them. Zoos conduct research on animal behavior, population dynamics, the transmission of animals to human diseases and the best way to protect endangered species. Over the last 20 years, zoos have produced over 5,000 research papers.
How For Elephants helps zoos
For Elephants is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the survival of the world's African elephants through research, conservation and education. Our founder, Dr. Morfeld, believes that the declining populations of elephants are a global issue. That is why we work with other nonprofit organizations like Elephants Alive and zoos across the United States to find the best conservation practices for elephants in the wild and zoos.
Currently, elephants in zoos are not self-sustaining - that means the elephants are at risk of "captive extension" in zoos. Research has found that there are more zoo elephant deaths than births. (Three births vs. five deaths annually.) Dr. Morfeld has discovered that female elephants (cows) are not cycling in zoos due to their body conditions and lack of mental and physical engagement. She is working closely with zoos and using elephant research to help them become enriching environments for elephant conservation and self-sustain efforts.
How to help wildlife conservation
There are plenty of ways that you can help promote wildlife conservation. You can support your local zoo, especially during this pandemic. Continue to buy yearly passes or make a donation.
Also, you can always donate to support our elephant research and conservation efforts. You can shop our apparel or make a one-time donation. All purchases and donations help support our research! Make a difference today!