Zoo enlists visitors' help to protect endangered species

Endangered Species Day event aims to raise awareness about imperiled wildlife

Orangutans, sea otters and penguins are three of the most beloved animals at the Oregon Zoo. In the wild, they share a more troubling distinction: all are imperiled.

Of the roughly 230 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates living at the zoo, more than 50 are endangered or threatened. On Saturday, May 16, the zoo will celebrate these creatures while raising awareness about the struggles they face in observance of Endangered Species Day.

"Our zoo's mission is to inspire our community to create a better future for wildlife," said zoo education curator Grant Spickelmier. "Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for zoo visitors to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions they can take to help them survive."

Zoo staff and volunteers will be present at six key exhibits to discuss the importance of protecting endangered species and how to help them survive.

Volunteers will be present at each of these exhibits from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and keeper talks are scheduled as follows:

  • Black bear enrichment - 9:45 a.m.
  • Orangutans palm oil station - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Bear Animal Talkers - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • River otter enrichment - 10:45 a.m.
  • Sea otter feeding and keeper talk - 11:30 a.m.
  • California condor keeper talk - 12:15 p.m.
  • Chimpanzee feeding and keeper talk - 1 p.m.
  • African wild dog keeper talk - 1:30 p.m.
  • Penguin feeding and keeper talk - 2:15 p.m.
  • Hornbill feeding and keeper talk - 2:30 p.m.
  • Bat feeding - 3 p.m.

One of the stations — California condor — will offer visitors the inside story about the zoo's native Northwest species recovery programs. In 1998, the zoo joined in collaborative efforts to recover the silverspot butterfly, Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, Oregon spotted frog and western pond turtle. In 2002, the zoo began working with Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits and began breeding California condors in 2003.

Globally, the zoo works with partners to bolster on-the-ground efforts to save species ranging from Canadian polar bears to Bornean orangutans.

"Worldwide, passionate individuals are dedicating their lives to fighting extinction, resolving human-wildlife conflict and protecting habitat," said Dr. David Shepherdson, the zoo's deputy conservation manager. "Every visitor that walks through the Oregon Zoo's gates helps in these efforts, whether it's through activism, education or supporting the zoo's conservation efforts."

The Oregon Zoo Foundation's Wildlife Partner program allows the zoo community to directly support global conservation efforts for species including black rhinos, California condors and Asian elephants. Join us today.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org