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Fota Wildlife Park Helping Worlds Most Endangered Animals

A new list of the top ten mammals most reliant on zoological parks has revealed that one of them is the Scimitar-horned oryx where 3 calves were born this year at Fota Wildlife Park in Co Cork.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos, parks and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top ten mammals most reliant on zoos in the UK and Ireland. The Scimitar-horned oryx, the Amur Leopard, the Livingstone’s fruit bat and the San Martin titi monkey have all made it on to the list, which highlights some of the best examples of how zoos are safeguarding the future of our planet’s wildlife and their habitats.

The Scimitar-horned oryx has suffered from over-hunting, coupled with habitat destruction which led to their extinction in the wild during the early 1990s. However, a number of Zoological facilities - including Fota Wildlife Park - have assisted north African governments in reintroducing the antelope into a number of National Parks in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal in recent years.

Fota Wildlife Park is also proud of a male oryx born at the Park in 2003 that has been successfully re-introduced into the wild in Dghoumes National Park, Tunisia. The male is now the dominant bull in a group of 17 animals and has successfully sired a number of calves.

Dr Andrew Marshall, of BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee, who co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA zoos, said: “Last year, BIAZA published a report on the top ten species most reliant on zoos which highlighted the work being done by zoos across all taxonomic groups to help safeguard their future. This year, we have focused on ten prevailing examples of mammals that zoos are working to save from extinction.

The top ten list of mammals most reliant on zoos demonstrates the importance of zoos not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations , but also for their contribution to funding and management of conservation projects in the field, including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.

Dr Marshall added: “Without the indispensable conservation and breeding work of many of our member zoos and aquariums, many threatened species such as these may be lost to extinction forever. Modern zoos are evolving and improving rapidly and increasingly are acting as the driving forces behind major conservation, research and education initiatives.  We want our visitors to know that in visiting their zoo they are not simply enjoying a great day out, but are contributing to an ever-increasing conservation effort.”

BIAZA’s top ten mammals most reliant on zoos are:

Amur leopard – one of the most endangered large cats in the world with less than 50 individuals remaining in the wild.
Blue-eyed black lemur – this Critically Endangered mammal is restricted to a very small area of around 2,700km² in northwest Madagascar and only a small total population remains.
Scimitar-horned oryx – the Scimitar-horned oryx is Extinct in the Wild, so completely dependent on captive breeding for survival.
Sumatran tiger – there are only 300-400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild.
San Martin titi monkey – this Critically Endangered primate is not kept in zoos, but BIAZA zoos are important partners in the only conservation initiative working to protect this species.
Grevy’s zebra – this endangered equid has experienced one of the largest reductions of range and numbers of any African mammal.
Livingstone’s fruit bat – one of the largest bat species in the world with less than 1,100 individuals remaining in the wild.
Pied tamarin – the most Endangered Amazonian primate found in a very small region of the Brazilian rainforest.
White-naped mangabey – listed as one of the 25 Most Endangered Primates in the World. Only 15% of their original habitat remains.
Western lowland gorilla – the Western lowland gorilla is under threat of extinction from specialist hunting and habitat loss.

Next year’s report will focus on the top ten reptiles and amphibians most reliant on zoos.

To read the full report and for more information visit: http://www.biaza.org.uk/news/1148/98/Top-Ten-Mammals-Most-Reliant-on-Zoos/