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Ring-tailed lemur in the indoor enclosure.

Working together to counter global species extinction

Species protection | 12 October 2023

Gänsegeier Auswilderungsprojekt Sardinien

Species conservation is a key task of modern zoos and is even enshrined in Section 42 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (Bundesnaturschutzgesetz). Here at Dresden Zoo, we too see species conservation as one of our most critical missions, and we aim to take it even further in the future.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which publishes and maintains the Red List of Threatened Species, has now published a position statement in which the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) underscores the importance of botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos for species conservation. These institutions have valuable expertise in animal husbandry and species and population protection.

The IUCN SSC also urges all parties involved in species conservation to join forces and take decisive action against the extinction of species, which is so often the result of human activity. There should no longer be any distinction between in situ species conservation in animals’ natural habitats and ex situ conservation of species in zoos. Instead, all parties should work together within the One Plan Approach, sharing and enhancing their expertise, and treating populations both in the wild and under human care as an integrated whole.At the same time, the position statement points out that the zoo community must build on its previously untapped potential in this area, fulfilling its mission and living up to its responsibility.

Species conservation at Dresden Zoo

Our Conservation Euro means we are already providing over €250,000 of financial support to a large number of projects. We will continue to expand our efforts in the future.

In the years ahead, keeping and breeding highly endangered species will be an essential part of the zoo’s work. Where possible and appropriate, reintroduction programmes will be used to strengthen natural populations. In 2021, for example, we sent two of our griffon vulture offspring to a reintroduction project in Sardinia.

But awareness-raising and educational work are important aspects of species conservation, too. As zoos, when we fill people with wonder about animals and the natural world, we also build awareness of the importance of preserving nature and biodiversity. We will also deepen our commitment in this area going forwards, offering more educational programmes, workshops and lectures.

The IUCN SSC also mentions all these opportunities, highlighting the importance of zoos and the many ways they can contribute towards species conservation in today’s world. The support of the world’s largest and most prominent nature conservation organisation confirms that as a zoo community, we are on the right path in the fight against the loss of biodiversity.

Link to IUCN position statement “On the role of botanic gardens, aquariums, and zoos in species conservation”:

2023-position-statement-on-the-role-of-botanic-gardens-aquariums-and-zoos-in-species-conservation-gr.pdf (iucn.org)

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