Zoo invites visitors to help fight extinction May 21

May 18, 2016 - 10:18am

Endangered Species Day event aims to raise awareness about imperiled wildlife

Sea otters, Asian elephants and California condors are three of the most iconic species at the Oregon Zoo. They are also among the most threatened. On Saturday, May 21, in observance of Endangered Species Day, the zoo will highlight some of the world's rarest creatures while raising awareness about the fight to save them.

"It's scary how close we've come to forever losing the condor and other species," zoo director Dr. Don Moore said. "We are living in the sixth mass extinction now, and unlike those that came before, this one is almost entirely caused by humans. There's reason for hope though, because it's also humans that can turn the tide. The survival of wildlife depends on our compassion and willingness to protect the planet for all living things."

At key spots throughout the zoo, staff, conservation partners and volunteers will discuss how to help endangered species survive. Some areas will also include animal feedings and enrichment:

"The survival of wildlife depends on our compassion and willingness to protect the planet for all living things."

—Dr. Don Moore, zoo director

  • Condors of the Columbia - 10 a.m.
  • Cotton-top tamarins - 10:15 a.m.
  • Predators of the Serengeti - 10:30 a.m.
  • Red Ape Reserve - 1:15 p.m.
  • Island Pigs of Asia - 1:30 p.m.
  • Giraffes - 1:45 p.m.
  • Malayan sun bear - 2:45 p.m.
  • Amur tiger and leopard - 2:45 p.m.

This year, visitors can pick up a free Expedition Save Wildlife endangered species adventure passport filled with activities and simple ways kids and adults can protect wildlife.

"Endangered Species Day is about showing people the connection between their lives and the survival of species around the world," zoo education curator Grant Spickelmier said. "Conservation starts at home with the smallest decisions we make every day, from the cleaning products we use to the food we eat."

Of the roughly 230 species at the Oregon Zoo, more than 50 are endangered or threatened. Scientists estimate that as many as half of the world's species could face extinction by mid-century. Since 2000, the western black rhino, Yangtze river dolphin and Pyrenean ibex have all declared extinct, and many more species are believed to have vanished before they were even discovered.

Others, including the California condor, narrowly avoided disappearing forever — the entire wild population was down to 22 individuals by 1987. Endangered Species Day will give visitors the inside story of the zoo's work with conservation partners to recover the iconic bird, along with the Oregon silverspot butterfly, Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, Oregon spotted frog, western pond turtle and Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit.