Connect-Understand-Act model engages zoo visitors in fighting extinction

We will raise awareness and inspire the community to join us in our efforts to fight extinction, write CEC member Rachel Lowry and Bronwyn Hradsky of Zoos Victoria - Australia. 

The Leadbeater’s Possum is major focus of the Fighting Extinctions Commitment by Zoos Victoria - Australia Photo: Dan Harley

What do the Orange-bellied Parrot, Baw Baw Frog and Guthega Skink have in common? They are all endemic to south-eastern Australia and they are all likely to become extinct in the next ten years unless there is conservation intervention. Zoos Victoria is committed to fighting their extinction.

Zoos Victoria recently conducted a review which showed that twenty species endemic to south-eastern Australia are teetering on the brink of extinction.

These unique species need our help now. Zoos Victoria’s new Fighting Extinction Commitment commits us to ensuring that no more Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species become extinct.

Zoos Victoria is a not-for profit, zoo-based conservation organisation, and our Fighting Extinction Commitment focuses our skills and resources in our own backyard.

We will use a four-step approach to implement the Fighting Extinction Commitment and showcase the critical role of zoos in protecting threatened species:

  1. Ark: We will secure all priority species within our care (provide a safe haven)
  2. Insurance: We will establish an insurance population for each species. By ensuring that the captive population is genetically, demographically and behaviourally fit, we provide it with the best chance in the future for wild release
  3. Recovery: We will support recovery programs that release our captive bred animals into the wild and monitor success
  4. Mainstreaming biodiversity: We will raise awareness and inspire the community to join us in our efforts to fight extinction

By 2014, we will have all 20 priority species (16 Victorian species and 4 regional species) in our care.

Mainstreaming biodiversity is a key part of Zoos Victoria’s approach to fighting extinction. Having the Victorian community engaged with the plight of these species is critically important for their ongoing protection and recovery.

As a zoo-based conservation organisation, we will utilise our unique position to inspire our 1.7 million visitors and the wider community about these species and their conservation. We will utilise the Connect-Understand-Act model to:

  • Connect zoo visitors and the general community with the priority species through emotionally engaging experiences
  • Promote Understanding through innovative and educational displays
  • Inspire the community to Act to alleviate the threatening processes that are affecting these species and their habitats

To find out the full list of twenty priority species, visit our webpage:

 For more information, contact Rachel Lowry and Bronwyn Hradsky

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