- Created on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:43
- Written by Imperial Valley News
Silver Spring, Maryland - The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) today announced that SeaWorld San Diego and San Diego Zoo Global have been awarded Significant Achievement in North American Conservation for the facilities' Light-Footed Clapper Rail Recovery program. The North American Conservation Award recognizes exceptional efforts toward regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild.
"SeaWorld San Diego and San Diego Zoo Global are proven leaders in wildlife conservation," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. "While all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums make conservation a top priority, this award brings well-deserved recognition to these institutions for making a positive impact on the future of this species."
SeaWorld San Diego and San Diego Zoo Global are part of Team Clapper Rail, a group of individuals and organizations that strive to help the critically-endangered light-footed clapper rail, a species that thrived in southern California marshlands until loss of habitat put it on the endangered species list. Since the program began in 2001, more than 300 clapper rails have been raised and then released into Southern California's coastal salt marshes. SeaWorld participates by producing parent-reared offspring and incubating some of the eggs and hand raising the chicks through a method called modified puppet rearing, which limits human contact, thereby preparing the chicks for eventual release to the wild.
The annual light-footed clapper rail count has continued to show population growth and numbers are at a record high since counts were first initiated in the 1980s. Current population censuses are expected to confirm more than approximately 500 breeding pairs in their native wild range - a historic record high since monitoring began.
Equally important to the viability of the wild subpopulations is that these birds are more evenly distributed throughout their range. In the 1980s, 80% of the population was distributed between three habitats offering very little chance of comingling them. Through thoughtful analysis and release locations, the overall population is more evenly distributed through its range.
"SeaWorld is proud to be part of efforts to increase the population of clapper rails in their natural habitat," said SeaWorld Park President John Reilly. "Our team of bird experts has made incredible contributions to help this critically endangered species, which is now seeing record population growth."
Collaborative partners on the project also include: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Fish and Game, Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, Living Coast Discovery Center and independent wildlife biologists.
"Clapper rails are species that can be easily overlooked because of their secretive nature but are a flagship species for coastal marshland habitats," said Michael Mace, Curator of Birds for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "In just 10 years since starting this release program the rail population in the wild has doubled. Receiving this award highlights the fact that endangered species can be saved."
About SeaWorld San Diego: With more than 145 million visitors since its opening on March 21, 1964, SeaWorld is San Diegos leading tourist attraction and one of the most popular marine-life parks in the world. SeaWorld San Diego is one of 10 parks operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. A global leader in animal care and conservation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment cares for more than 60,000 animals including 200 endangered or threatened species. This commitment extends to animals around the world--the company has contributed more than $50 million to conservation, wildlife rescue and environmental stewardship initiatives and operates one of the worlds most respected animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. SeaWorld has rescued more than 20,000 orphaned, injured or ill animals over four decades. SeaWorld San Diego alone has rescued more than 6,000 animals.
About the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy: The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The work of the Conservancy includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global manages the Anne and Kenneth Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Frozen ZooTM, Native Seed Gene Bank, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Centers, the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Facility, the Cocha Cashu Biological Research Station, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, and a 800-acre biodiversity reserve adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.
About the Association of Zoo and Aquariums: Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit www.aza.org.