Wildlife populations around the world are in decline due to habitat loss, pollution, and overexploitation. Of the world’s species, 25% of mammals, 41% of amphibians, and 13% of birds face extinction. The good news is that the situation is not hopeless. Population decline can be slowed or even reversed when conservation efforts are implemented.
[monkeyquote]Here are some simple actions you can take that will make a big difference to wildlife and their habitats:[/monkeyquote]
Purchase a zoo membership
One dollar of each zoo membership goes into the Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Fund. These funds are used to finance conservation projects both locally and abroad. For a list of the projects we have supported, click here.
Recycle your cell phone
Have you recently upgraded to a new cell phone and don’t know what to do with your old one? Drop it in the zoo’s Eco-Cell phone recycling bin, located near the entrance, and help save endangered animals at the same time!
As demand for cell phones, iPods, and other electronics increases, miners are illegally entering forested national parks in the Congo to mine coltan – a critical metallic component of cell phones and other electronic devices. These illegal mining camps have had a devastating impact on wildlife, destroying gorilla, chimpanzee, and elephant habitat, and poaching these endangered animals for bushmeat. The U.N. has reported that in the past five years, the eastern lowland gorilla population in the Congo has declined 90%. Sequoia Park Zoo has partnered with the company Eco-Cell to collect used electronics and recycle the coltan-based metal, tantalum, reducing the need to support additional coltan mining, and helping to save animals and their habitat. Electronic devices that we currently accept are:
- Cell phones and accessories
- digital cameras
- iPods and MP3 players
- handheld game systems
- handheld GPS units
- portable hard drives
Choose sustainably sourced palm oil
Palm oil is found in nearly half the products on grocery store shelves, including candy, cookies, cosmetics, and detergents. Most palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where vast tracts of rainforest are cleared for oil palm plantations. This unsustainable practice destroys habitat for thousands of species including orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and tigers.
Products from companies certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) contain palm oil that is grown with more sustainable methods, although the certification standards are controversial. Another alternative is to replace some of your packaged snack foods with more fresh fruits, vegetables, and home baked goods made with 100% corn, canola, or sunflower oil.
- For a list of 30 names palm oil can be labeled under, click here.
- For more information on palm oil, including a list of brands that use certified sustainable palm oil, visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s website.
Buy sustainable seafood
As a result of our increasing demand for seafood, it is estimated we have already removed up to 90% of the large predatory fish such as sharks, swordfish, cod, and tuna, as we are catching them faster than they can reproduce. Because fish are becoming more difficult to find in the wild, some countries are turning to collecting juvenile fish from the wild and “farming” them in floating net pens. Unfortunately, this practice still contributes to population decline and is associated with negative impacts such as pollution and spread of disease.
As a consumer, you can remove the economic incentive for overharvest by not buying fish that are on the brink of extinction or harvested in ways that damage marine environments. Instead, educate yourself on which seafood items are sustainable by picking up a free Seafood Watch pocket guide from the zoo’s Secrets of the Forest room, or download one from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website.
Re-think your coffee
What does your morning cup of coffee have to do with wildlife? In response to a growing demand for coffee, tropical forests are being cleared to plant new coffee varieties that produce more beans, but require full sun. This loss of forest habitat has resulted in population declines of migratory songbirds and other tropical species. As a consumer, you can help slow habitat loss by thinking twice about brewing more coffee than you’re really going to drink, and by purchasing shadegrown coffee certified as “bird-friendly” by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
Use non-lead ammunition
Scavengers like bald eagles, condors, and ravens are vulnerable to lead poisoning when they ingest lead fragments in the carcasses and gut piles left behind by hunters. Lead poisoning also threatens numerous waterfowl and upland game birds who mistake lead shot for food. If you are a hunter, consider using bullets made of copper alloys. They perform as well or better than lead bullets, and are less toxic both to wildlife and to those who are consuming the game. If you choose to use lead ammunition, bury the gut piles from harvested game so they are not accessible to scavengers.
Buy a gift that supports conservation
The zoo gift shop has several beautiful gifts whose purchase supports community-based conservation programs run by the Painted Dog Conservation Project and the Snow Leopard Trust. Also, purchase of a pawprint painting made by our resident red panda Sumo supports the Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Fund.
Donate your spare change
Do you have spare change at the end of your zoo visit? Have some fun racing your coins down the spiral wishing well in Bill’s Garden to support the Jane Goodall Institute, or put them in the rainforest parking meter located near the spider monkeys to support rainforest conservation in Costa Rica. You can also drop spare change into our wishing tree in the gift shop, to support the zoo’s local Conservation Grant Program.