Being a blogger, I have had the chance to do some awesome things, but probably my favorite is getting to interview various individuals to help get their messages out to my readers. I think this interview with Zookeeper Rick has probably been my favorite! Zookeeper Rick is an Ambassador at the San Diego Zoo and helps teach children and adults about animal conservation.
Summer is here, have you scheduled a trip to your local zoo for the whole family? You can see all your favorite animals in one trip! But, have you ever imagined a world where these animals don’t exist anymore. No giraffes. No zebras. No koalas. Imagine your grand children or great-grand children never knowing what these animals look like in person. The only proof they ever lived is in history and science books.
Animals are becoming endangered and extinct every day. But, did you know it is possible to prevent extinction? The San Diego Zoo Global is committed to helping people learn about wildlife and conversation on a national and global level. Zookeeper Rick Schwartz has agree to answer some questions today so we can learn what we can do as a family to help stop the extinction or endangerment of our favorite animals.
Zookeeper Rick has worked with animals for over twenty years. He began at the San Diego Zoo as a part-time zookeeper and is now an ambassador for the Zoo. He travels the world sharing his love for wildlife, the work the zoo does, and teaching about conservation.
Fun fact: The San Diego Zoo Global has learned to breed more than 165 endangered species and have reintroduced more than 30 of these species back into the wild!
San Diego Zoo Global, together with Zookeeper Rick, hopes to inspire the next generation of animal lovers and conservationists. Check out www.sandiegozookids.org for a fun and colorful introduction to wildlife and conservation. There are games, videos, animal facts and more!
Interview with Zookeeper Rick:
What is the difference between endangered and extinct animals?
The difference between endangered animals and extinct animals, is that we still have a chance to save endangered animals. Being endangered means the species could very well die out and be lost forever, but is not gone yet. Being extinct means that the species has died out and is no longer in existence.
What is wildlife conservation?
Wildlife conservation is, in its most basic form, the preservation and protection of plants, animals and habitats (ecosystems). In turn this essentially prevents the extinction, or permanent loss of these plants, animals & habitats.
How does the zoo help endangered and extinct animals?
The San Diego Zoo has a deep history of working to protect species and habitats around the world. Long standing breeding programs have created situations where endangered species such as the California Condor, Pocket Mouse, Arabian Oryx and Caribbean Iguana (to name a few) have been released back into the wild.
Another key component to the work the San Diego Zoo does for conservation is education. Not only do our guests that visit the zoo learn about the animals and plants of the world, but so do people around the world. Much of our conservation work, that is now found in over 30 different countries around the world, is also about collaborating with & educating communities that coexist with endangered species.
As a parent, what can we do to help our children become aware of the issues facing animals?
As parents we find it can be a difficult path to navigate when it comes to teaching our children about endangered animals that may face extinction. I’d say the biggest thing any parent can do is to teach their children to have a respect and understanding of the natural world (bees and spiders are as fascinating as ladybugs and butterflies). And remember, your children learn more from what you do, not what you say.
Join a park or beach clean up – Heck, even a neighborhood clean up! Removal of litter is something that is action based and you and your kids can see a direct effect! Healthy habitat is a big part of conservation. Find an animal that your child likes or maybe even one that they think is gross and then research it with them! Find out what that animal eats and what habitat they live in. Then take it a step further and find out what other animals live in that same habitat. The fun thing is, if you take your child on this exploration of sorts, they (and you) will be having so much fun investigating the animal you may not even realize you are learning about biology, ecology and zoology!
What does the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy do exactly?
Sand Diego Wildlife Conservancy is one of many parts of the nonprofit organization, San Diego Zoo Global. Essentially it is a conservation organization dedicated to ending extinction. This is a multifaceted organization that includes the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Institute for Conservation Research.
Conservation work takes place at all three locations via scientific research on many levels for plants and animals. And our conservation work reaches well beyond our facilities with more than 100 conservation field projects operating in over 30 different countries. Of course we can’t do all of this alone. San Diego Zoo Global collaborates and shares information with other zoos and conservation organizations around the world.
How can we help animals that are in need?
If you want to help animals in need, there are many things you can do. For example, if you don’t mind getting dirty, volunteer at your local zoo or wildlife rehabilitation center. Head out with groups that do park, trail or beach clean up events. Can’t find one in your area? Then start one. If you’d rather not get dirty then maybe offer up a donation to (or fund-raise for) an organization like San Diego Zoo Global or a local wildlife rehabilitation center.
Are there things we can do in our normal, everyday lives that can help prevent animals from becoming endangered or extinct?
Yes, there are many things you can do in your everyday life to help in the world’s conservation efforts. As consumers we can pay closer attention to what we buy and where it comes from. A simple example, when ever possible, buy locally grown food. Or even pick food from a location closer to you if not actually local. Less travel time for goods and services means less energy consumption and less pollution. Plus food like fruits & vegetables tend to be fresher & yummier!
Drive less & walk more is another good one. Yes, it will save gas and save you money, but it will also create less wear and tear on your car. Did you know a lot of water pollution is from run-off of break dust, oil and other fluid drips from your car?
Oh, and a really big one: RECYCLE! Just taking a few extra steps to recycle things like plastic, glass and aluminum makes a big difference in the world. We may not see it in our immediate area, but when you recycle you create less demand on the natural habitats where these items are mined for or drilled for. Plus less waste in the landfill means less land lost to making garbage dumps. And of course recycle paper, it saves trees and the process of recycling paper takes less energy then harvesting trees to make paper.
I believe we all have the innate desire to remain close to the natural world. I live my life reconnecting people to that very thing. ~ Zookeeper Rick
I encourage you to check out some of the tips and ideas that Zookeeper Rick has shared, as well as check out the good things that the San Diego Zoo Global is doing, and take a look at some of the awesome animal cams they have set up at the Zoo! Also, make sure you head over and check out www.sandiegozookids.org with your children for some fun activities.
Together, we can prevent animal extinction.
This post was written for social good. No compensation was received. All information and pictures used with permission.
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