This is the Year of the Gorilla, which is a Conservation Awareness campaign to save the mighty Gorilla. The Gorilla is a magnificent animal - regal and full of presence - and critically endangered. There are too few of them in wild. Zoos do their part to help increase their numbers and educate the public. That's why the news of the St. Louis Zoo's eight-year-old Muchana, a male Western lowland gorilla was especially heart breaking. He was found entangled in rope from his sleeping hammock on Saturday, February 28, 2009. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
This is truly devastating. Not only because he was a beautiful animal (and the zoo staff are particular grieved), but it represents a big blow to the recovery efforts of this species. When numbers are so low, every life, every unique gene sequence is precious.
But majestic beasts of foreign lands are not the only ones at risk.
Two days later, Monday, March 2, 2009, the last known wild Jaguar of the United States also died. Macho B, a 15-year-old (or so) male had been living in the deserts and mountains of Arizona. He had been captured and collared, but it was later revealed he was suffering from severe kidney failure. he was re-captured and the veterinary staff of the Phoenix Zoo euthanized him. No other wild jaguars have been confirmed in over 10 years.
Preserving wild species is critical to work of ecologists and conservation biologists. Every creature, every plant, every bug and micro-organisms has an important role to play in this world. These very large animals are especially important for the structure and balance of communities.
- Awareness is the first step. I hope this post serves to make you aware, to inspire you to become concerned, to do something.
- Action is the next step. Learn more about endangered species like the Gorilla and the Jaguar. Join conservation organizations. I am a Young Friend of the St. Louis Zoo and my membership fee helps to promote research and conservation efforts to save animals like the Western Lowland Gorilla. Or you can send a gift to the Center for Biological Diversity's Jaguar Recovery Fund.
- Advocacy is the third step, but not the final one. Speaking out to the causes that concern you most is an on-going task. Support Gorilla Conservation. Let the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and President Obama know that we must rescind and reverse the Bush Administration’s formal decision to put the jaguar at risk. We need policies and plans that protect the jaguar and their critical habitat. Sign the on-line petition here.