Today is Endangered Species Day, a time for people of all ages to learn about endangered species and how everyday actions can be taken to protect them. Since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, great strides have been made in efforts to protect endangered and threatened species, but there is much more to be done. The more we learn about the delicate balance of ecosystems, the clearer it becomes how important it is to protect even the tiniest creatures from extinction. Adventure Aquarium is proud to be a safe home to many species that are increasingly threatened in the wild due to human interference.
“While many efforts have been made across the board to protect endangered species, counteracting the destruction of necessary habitats and the decline of certain threatened species in the wild often seems an impossible task,” said Jen Duffy, Senior Biologist. “Adventure Aquarium is proud to do our part to protect endangered species both through rehabilitation and release programs, and participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Programs (SSP). We simply can’t afford to give up on this fight, for the future of the many species threatened by human behavior and the future of our children.”
Adventure Aquarium is committed to protecting endangered species by teaching guests of all ages the importance of conservation and each animal’s role in the overall ecosystem. By participating in SSPs—captive breeding and management programs that try to preserve species that are endangered in the wild—we’re able to contribute to field conservation efforts and species recovery. Get to know a few of our endangered species:
Some of our most popular residents are part of an SSP: the adorable African black-footed penguins, including recent hatchlings Pumpkin, Patch, Saba and Cornelius. In the wild, African penguin populations have drastically plummeted, with 40 percent of the population affected by water pollution. Since 1998, the Aquarium has successfully bred and raised nineteen African black-footed penguin chicks, while the population has decreased from 200,000 to only 55,000 in the wild. If this steep decline is not halted, the African penguin could be extinct within 15-years.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
We also work to help protect declining Loggerhead sea turtle populations by partnering with the North Carolina Aquarium’s Loggerhead Sea Turtle Loan Program. Once intensively hunted for their meat and eggs, Loggerheads are now threatened by fishing gear that entangles them and beach development that takes away nesting sites. Sea turtle hatchlings are often too weak to dig their way out to the ocean or confused by artificial light sources that they mistake for the sun. Adventure Aquarium takes in these tiny turtles to rehabilitate them and release them in to the ocean once they reach a healthy adult weight. One of these success stories is Tortuga, who only weighed in at 0.2 pounds when he arrived at Adventure Aquarium, and is now well on his way toward a potential release date of fall 2014.
Orinoco crocodiles are a critically endangered species whose numbers dwindled so considerably in the last century that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has estimated their wild population at only 250-1,500. It’s also rare to see them in zoos and aquariums. Their presence at Adventure Aquarium marks the first time they have been exhibited in the Northeast.
The axolotl is an extraordinary little amphibious creature, native to central Mexico. Known for their incredible ability to completely regenerate entire limbs—a unique feature that has made them important for scientific research, they seem to have disappeared from the wild completely. Urbanization of the lakes where they live in Mexico has threatened wild axolotl populations so severely that a four-month long search in 2013 turned up no surviving individuals.
These incredible animals all deserve better. Join us for a visit to learn more about these and more endangered creatures that call Adventure Aquarium home and how you can help to protect them. Find out more at www.AdventureAquarium.com.