Zoo based conservation comes in many forms. You might notice during your visit that the zoo participates in recycling programs of items such as plastics, returnables, ink-jet and laser-jet cartridges and cell phones. But there are also other conservation programs that we participate in that you don’t see as you walk around.
Ex-situ conservation is the process of protecting an endangered species of plant or animal outside of its natural habitat. The Utica Zoo participates in such programs through the participation in specialized programs known as Species Survival Plans. In some instances, this may mean the zoo is asked to breed a species to help increase their numbers. Other times, this means simply providing homes to animals that are not in a breeding program or are otherwise not able to be released into the wild due to injury or human intervention. Some species in these programs have been successfully reintroduced into their native habitat.
Some of the species programs that we currently work with include Mexican Wolves, Red Panda, White-naped Crane, White-handed Gibbons, Mexican Spider Monkeys, Golden lion Tamarins, Golden-headed lion Tamarins, California Sea Lions, Prehensile-tailed Skinks, Collared Peccary and Snowy Owls, among others.
In-situ conservation is the process of protecting an endangered species in its natural habitat. For a zoo of our size, it can be difficult to commit significant monetary resources to these types of programs, but with the help of programs such as our recycling and candy machine programs, we are able to provide small grants to select organizations that are on the ground in range countries.
In the past we have contributed to such organizations as the Peregrine Fund and Snow Leopard Trust. We have also provided staff assistance to programs such as monitoring and numbering of the Chittenango Ovate Amber Snail, a species believed to be endangered in a small area of upstate NY; as well as, field studies of turtle populations in the Utica Marsh ecosystem. We will continue to add to our program participation through funding and staff participation in in-situ research.
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Besides the day to day cleaning and feeding of the animals, the animal keepers are also responsible for Environmental Enrichment and Training.