Endangered Species Highlighted on Friday, May 15 at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Aquarium animals are part of a national effort to highlight the growing extinction crisis

May 13, 2015

On Friday, May 15, the Monterey Bay Aquarium will join with American Zoological Association colleagues nationwide to mark Endangered Species Day with the launch of a new initiative, AZA SAFE – Saving Animals from Extinction. The aquarium will highlight the threats of extinction facing many species in the wild – and the work the aquarium and AZA colleagues are doing to make a difference.

On this 10th anniversary of Endangered Species Day, the aquarium will feature endangered animals it’s working to save by flagging several exhibits with a red sign. Through this special label, in public presentations and in conversations with visitors, the aquarium will highlight the fact that these species are at risk of extinction – and that together we can turn things around.

“We don’t like to think about it, but some of our favorite marine animals, like sea otters and sharks, are endangered in the wild,” Cynthia Vernon, Vice President of Education and Guest Programs at Monterey Bay Aquarium said.  “This is a day to reflect on what it would be like if they were no longer part of our world, but also to think about the positive actions we can take to ensure their long term success. We hope visitors to the aquarium will support our work with other accredited aquariums and zoos to save animals from extinction.”

The vanishing animals from Monterey Bay Aquarium are part of a larger, national campaign organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The 229 accredited members of AZA are coming together in a variety of ways to help the public consider what it would be like to not be able to see, learn from or connect with these incredible animals ever again. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of efforts to save animals from extinction and to launch AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE).

For decades, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been leaders in species survival. AZA has already helped restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor and a variety of aquatic species. 

Through SAFE, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will convene scientists and stakeholders globally to identify the factors that threaten many species. They will then develop conservation action plans, collect new resources and engage the public.

In 2015, SAFE will focus on ten species. An additional ten species will be added to the list each year for the next ten years. Of the first ten species that are the focus of AZA SAFE, the Monterey bay Aquarium exhibits and works to protect several: sea turtles, African penguins, the freshwater Western pond turtle, and all species of sharks.

“AZA aquarium and zoo conservationists have identified more than 100 species facing the greatest threats and where accredited zoos and aquariums have unique conservation and science knowledge to contribute,” AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy said.  “Today, we’re demonstrating just how profound the loss would be if we don’t take action now to protect wildlife. More important, we are also explaining to the public just what AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are doing to save animals from extinction.” 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is also actively involved in conservation efforts that benefit many other species, including Pacific bluefin tuna, great white sharks, and Western snowy plovers, both through its team of conservation research scientists and through the work of its husbandry staff.

Public Asked to Help Save Animals from Extinction

One of the easiest conservation actions the public can take is to visit Monterey Bay Aquarium and other AZA accredited partners.  Doing so directly supports the collaborative efforts of hundreds of researchers, field conservationists and scientists from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums working to save animals from extinction.

For more information, follow the online conversation on May 15 via #savingspecies.

About AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction

AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo & aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. The collaborative is working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit AZAsavingspecies.org.

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.

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The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.