Knoxville Zoo highlights endangered

Knoxville – For the 10th Anniversary of Endangered Species Day, and to highlight the growing importance of working on saving endangered species from extinction, Knoxville Zoo’s African penguins “vanished” from their habitat for one day last week.

“Today, we are asking our visitors to pause and consider what extinction looks and feels like,” said Lisa New, executive director of Knoxville Zoo. “This is a collaborative effort with other zoos and aquariums to motivate and inspire people to join in our efforts to save animals from extinction. One of the easiest ways to help is by visiting Knoxville Zoo, which directly supports the work we’re doing with other zoos as well as scientists in the field to save animals for future generations.”

The vanishing animals at Knoxville Zoo are part of a larger, national effort organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), of which Knoxville Zoo is a member. The 229-accredited members of the AZA are coming together to help the public consider what it would be like to not be able to see, learn from or connect with endangered animals if they were extinct.

Endangered Species Day was chosen by the AZA to launch a new collaborative initiative, Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE). Through SAFE, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will convene scientists and stakeholders globally to identify the factors threatening species, develop Conservation Action Plans, collect new resources and engage the public.

In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for the next 10 years. The inaugural 10 species include: African penguin, Asian elephants, Black rhinoceros, cheetah, gorilla, sea turtles, vaquita, sharks and rays, Western pond turtle and Whooping Crane.