Zoo visitors learn to care about ape survival

20 December 2011 | News story

CEC members in the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) educated zoo visitors about the threats that apes face and how people can contribute to their survival. EAZA will be collaborating with the IUCN Species Survival Commission in 2012.

The EAZA Ape Campaign ran from October 2010 until September 2011 and focused attention on the conservation of chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, bonobo and gibbon. Key issues that the campaign wanted to address focused on increasing ape habitat protection and reducing habitat loss, reducing hunting and trade of apes and changing consumer behaviour to reduce pressure on apes and their habitats. The campaign had three main objectives:

  • raising awareness of the threats that apes face;
  • lobbying decision-makers and key influencers about these threats;
  • raising funds to establish the EAZA Ape Conservation Fund that will support ape conservation projects.

In order to deliver the main campaign objectives strategic partnerships were developed with a range of organisations and projects and a campaign website was designed. The website contained lots of information regarding the apes, the threats, and merchandise items to help raise money for the campaign. The website also included a resources section full of campaign-related materials such as photographs, illustrations, species fact sheets and many other educational resources that could be used for fundraising and educational purposes. All participating zoos were encouraged to host Ape Week from April 18th to 24th 2011, in the run-up to Easter Sunday. The idea behind this was that a coordinated focus on the campaign, with lots of ape-related activities would generate lots of interest across Europe.

The Ape Campaign had great success meeting the three objectives. Throughout the summer and especially during Ape week around 165 participating zoos held awareness and fundraising events. Numerous educational activities were organized, ranging from chimpanzee face-painting, gorilla buttons and gibbon mask-making to producing enrichment materials for orangutans and collecting old mobile phones for recycling. Together with non-EAZA members and individuals more than €400.000 was raised for ape conservation. Since the closing of the campaign the EAZA Ape Conservation Fund has already supported four ape conservation projects with a total amount of €130.000.

The campaign has also been successful in lobbying decision-makers. More than eighteen months of lobbying by EAZA members paid a significant dividend in July 2011 when the European Parliament and Commission adopted an agreement on food information for consumers which will result in the mandatory labelling of palm oil in food products in Europe. The lobbying activities, which took place in conjunction with other like-minded organisations, directly addressed the threats that orangutans face. The production of palm oil is the single greatest threat to orangutans in the wild, destroying their tropical forest homes and bringing them into conflict with people as they move to find refuge.

Since the year 2000 EAZA’s conservation campaigns have raised funds, promoted awareness and provided the impetus for key regulatory change.

This year EAZA is joining forces with the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to raise funds and awareness for the conservation of the biodiversity of Southeast Asia. The IUCN/SSC effort has identified that big animals in Southeast Asia are declining most rapidly and that without immediate action could disappear forever. The EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign aims to combat this potential loss of Southeast Asian diversity.

 

EAZA campaign coordinator Mirko Marseille mirko.marseille@eaza.net