With around 500 species worldwide currently listed as endangered and many more species categorized as threatened, there has never been a more critical time for organizations to step up and commit to making a change. That being said, even with the increasing threat of climate change and humanity’s ecological footprint, not enough is being done to combat the negative effect that humankind is having on the natural world and the living creatures that reside within it. However, some are finding creative ways to help others and the animal world. The Gulf Breeze Zoo, in Florida, for instance, is dedicated to conservation efforts as well as creating better futures for animals around the world.
But what exactly are they doing, and how can others follow in their footsteps?
Keep reading to find out!
Why is conservation so important?
It can be all too easy to take the natural world around you for granted. Still, if everyone does not start to do their part to help conserve and protect wildlife and their natural habitats, then the world that you currently know will soon be nothing more than a distant memory.
Conservation work protects wildlife
Without the conservation efforts of organizations such as Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida, many amazing species would have a precarious future.
Natural habitats for many species are destroyed. It is not always possible for animals to thrive and even stay alive in their natural habitats. That is why the work carried out by conservation-oriented zoos and aquariums is so vital.
How is Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida helping with global conservation?
Gulf Breeze Zoo is passionate about all animals, but increasingly queued into the survival of endangered wildlife across the globe with their current conservation efforts including:
- Public education
- Vital breeding programs
- Habitat preservation
- Providing financial aid worldwide
- Assistance to wildlife conservation projects
- Collaboration with other zoos to support anti-poaching units
Quarters for Conservation program
Quarters for conservation is a conservation grant program that the Gulf Breeze Zoo started in 2018. It provides the proceeds from park’s feed machine to local and international conservation grants.
Guests are encouraged to “give change to make change” while feeding various animals from fish and turtles in natural ponds to goats, sheep, and pigs in the Domestics area. This creative fundraising effort has allowed visitors to do something fun. Meanwhile, the zoo generates revenue for additional conservation grants with minimal overhead expenses.
Zoofari Parks Conservation Grant for Native Species
The zoo awarded the 2019 Zoofari Parks Conservation Grant for Native Species to the University of West Florida’s Biology Department for Tortoise Conservation. Gulf Breeze Zoo CEO Eric Mogensen decided the best project in 2019 was in the zoo’s own backyard.
“We wanted to help a local cause, who may otherwise have been overlooked for funding. We believe small things make a big difference, and the gopher tortoise is no exception,” Mogensen said. “This conservation grant isn’t just about a donation; it’s about making a difference for a local species we all need to protect.”
Some of the other key International organizations that Gulf Breeze Zoo currently works with include:
- The Sumatran Orangutan Society
- The Giraffe Conservation Foundation
- The International Rhino Foundation
- The Source Population Alliance
- The Penguin Conservation
- Dyer Island Conservation Trust
- The Cheetah Conservation Fund
In addition to ensuring that they do their part to support animals in the wild, Gulf Breeze Zoo is dedicated to providing the best possible environment and life for the animals within their care.
Last year, the zoo was chosen to home a family of six orangutans. Their facilities currently include a 43,000 square foot natural outdoor habitat for the orangutans, one of the largest available in the United States.
As well as this happy family of orangutans, the zoo is also currently home to a family of white rhinos who had a baby born last year. The young rhino’s birth was of considerable significance to the zoo. This is because she was the first of her kind to be born there. It was made even more critical because her species is close to extinction with only 20,000 left in the wild.
How can you help support the conservation efforts of Gulf Breeze Zoo?
Gulf Breeze Zoo is one of only a few privately owned zoological facilities. This means it receives zero tax dollars from the government to fund its operation or conservation efforts. Therefore, support to continue local and national conservation endeavors are entirely determined by the number of visitors that the zoo receives each year.
Beyond making a conscious effort to visit the zoo, you can also educate yourself and your children about the importance of animals and conservation by attending any number of special events hosted or educational talks so that moving forward, you and your family can contribute to the preservation of the natural world and the species that need our help.