Help save amphibians during National Conservation Week



    OTTAWA, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadians are being asked to help save
frogs and other amphibians in Canada and around the world from a looming
extinction crisis. National Conservation Week at Canada's 25 accredited zoos
and aquariums, June 28-July 5 is an opportunity to learn about the crisis and
to get involved.
    Experts predict that without massive intervention, up to 80 % of the
world's amphibians will disappear within our lifetime. Zoos and aquariums
worldwide have banded together to mount a rescue effort and Canada's
accredited zoos and aquariums are participating fully.
    "This is an unprecedented crisis" said Dr. John Nightingale, President of
the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) "Unless we take action
now this will be the greatest species extinction since the disappearance of
the dinosaurs. During National Conservation Week CAZA member institutions
across Canada are holding special events, lectures and presentations about the
crisis, what is being done about it and how Canadians can get involved. I urge
you to visit a CAZA-accredited zoo or aquarium to learn more, to make a
donation to support the cause, and to get involved."
    CAZA's 25 accredited members across the nation are hosting the third
annual National Conservation Week with a special invitation to community
members to visit and learn about wildlife conservation, with particular
emphasis on amphibian conservation.
    CAZA institutions are heavily involved in conservation projects dealing
with a broad range of species, in the research necessary to support that
conservation, and in delivering education programs to acquaint Canadians with
its importance to species survival. A recent survey revealed that overall,
CAZA member institutions nurture, protect and care for more than 100,000
animals representing over 2,000 species. Often these animals are the last
representatives of endangered species that survive because of zoo and aquarium
captive animal management programs.
    CAZA members participate in close to 800 ex-situ programs and are
directly involved in 20 field projects, most linked directly to reintroduction
programs.
    CAZA's Canadian Collection Plan is a series of long-term breeding and
conservation projects that provide insurance policies against extinction for
key Canadian endangered species such as the Vancouver Island Marmot, the
Burrowing Owl, the Loggerhead Shrike, the Wolverine, the Black-Footed Ferret
and others.
    Canadian zoos and aquariums are involved in in-situ programs in Canada
and around the world. In 2005 they took part in over 60 projects that since
their inception were supported by expenditures of $1,750,000. In some cases,
the contribution is monetary, in other cases professional staff and resources
from the institutions are directly involved in doing the work.
    The amphibian extinction crisis is caused by a number of factors -
climate change, loss of habitat, pollution, over-harvesting, and now by a
deadly fungus disease - chytrid fungus - that decimates up to 80% of an
infected population within a matter of months. There is no known cure for the
disease in the wild at this stage, and the international rescue program is
putting in place isolation facilities to house still-healthy animals and
sustain them in a breeding population until such time as they can be returned
to a safe, healthy environment in the wild.
    Canadian zoos and aquariums have put in place a multi-faceted program to
deal with the crisis. They are introducing a health monitoring program,
supporting recovery teams in the field, building capacity to help amphibians
over the long term, and inspiring Canadians to take personal action to help
out.
    Although the amphibian crisis may seem overwhelming, average Canadians
can take direct personal action to influence the well-being of amphibians.
Unlike many endangered or threatened animals amphibians are found in every
part of Canada. To help, Canadians can:

    
        -  Join FrogWatch and help increase our knowledge of frogs and toads.
           http://www.naturewatch.ca/english/frogwatch/on/intro.html
        -  "Adopt" a local wetland by entering it into a Canada-wide
           registry database.
           http://www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/WetlandGuardiansRegistry.asp
           - or link up with their local conservation organization.
    

    Canadians can also help in this crucial effort by donating to CAZA's
conservation fund at their local accredited zoo or aquarium or by going online
to www.caza.ca, by learning what individuals can do to support amphibian
populations, and by joining groups that are working to support and expand frog
and amphibian populations that are in danger.

    CAZA is the national voice of the zoo and aquarium community in Canada.
Representing the 25 leading zoos and aquariums in Canada its purpose is to
promote the welfare of wildlife, to advance related science and conservation
and to foster public engagement in the preservation of our natural heritage.
For more information, visit www.caza.ca




For further information:

For further information: Bill Peters, National Director, CAZA, Ph. (613)
567-0099 x 242, bpeters@caza.ca

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CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS (CAZA)

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