Friday, December 28, 2007

Some Good News on Species Preservation

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (an organization mostly in the news at the moment in relation to the Christmas tragedy at the San Francisco Zoo) has released its “Top Ten Wildlife Conservation Success Stories in 2007.”

Two of the stories were of particular interest to me. One caught my attention as an anthropologist, as it involves attempts to save a primate species, the black and white ruffed lemur, while a second was of special interest to me as it involved a species inhabiting in the wild only a single barrier island off Pensacola where I live and teach, the Perdido Key Beach Mouse.

The following paragraphs are from the AZA press release:

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs born in zoos are getting a feel for their new home at the Betampona Natural Reserve in eastern Madagascar. The Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), and the Duke Lemur Center coordinated the plan to reintroduce zoo-bred lemurs to the wild, with the help of other MFG partners and institutions, including Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Santa Ana Zoo. The released individuals are being monitored and have fared well so far, with four offspring born from three reintroduced lemurs.

This summer, Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo, in Gainesville, Florida, began housing 52 Perdido Key beach mice to protect the species from extinction. The mice originated from the University of South Carolina, but needed to be relocated after damage from Hurricane Ivan. The Brevard Zoo, Florida Aquarium, and Palm Beach Zoo have since shared in the responsibility of caring for and studying the mice. There are only a few hundred individuals left in the wild, inhabiting just one barrier island off the coast of Pensacola. Researchers fear that a hurricane could be disastrous to the beach mice, potentially causing the species to become extinct in the wild. Breeding studies have commenced to safeguard their numbers.

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