December 27th is National Visit the Zoo Day. Ever since the first one opened in 1793, zoos have been home to a wide range of species from around the world. They have provided visitors with close encounters to wildlife and advanced invaluable scientific research. Just one trip to the zoo can increase one’s environmental awareness, cultivating a deep appreciation for the natural world.
But zoos are much more than just spaces of entertainment and learning: they are modern conservation facilities protecting the most endangered species. Critics inaccurately portray zoos as inherently inhumane facilities that do nothing other than enclose animals for our enjoyment. In doing so, they ignore the numerous vital programs administered by zoos to support wildlife conservation.
In particular, zoos have a successful track record managing breeding programs that repopulate extinct animals. Take the Perth Zoo in Australia. For over a century, scientists believed the western swamp tortoise went extinct. The species was then rediscovered in 1953 in a small habitat in the Swan Valley region, making the tortoise critically endangered. Now the species is slowly reemerging thanks to the zoo’s diligent conservation efforts. In fact, nearly 1,000 of these animals have been reared in the facility in the last three decades–many of which have gone back to the wild.
A longtime champion of zoos and aquariums, American Humane is the first humane organization with a certification program verifying that facilities meet the highest standards of animal care. When you see the American Humane Certified™ logo, you can rest assured that the zoo meets our benchmark of good welfare and humane treatment. And unlike other certifiers, our evidence-based standards are set by world-renowned experts in animal science and ethics
This holiday season, we encourage you and your loved ones to plan a visit to your local zoo. Not only will you form unforgettable memories, but you will also support the valuable work of wildlife preservation. To learn more about Humane Certified, visit https://humaneconservation.org/certified-parks/.