Monday, September 9, 2013

Houston Zoo - Saving the World's Elephants

The elephant is one of Africa's most iconic species. It is in peril due to illegal poaching, habitat loss and conflict with local human communities. We need your help today to turn the tide and protect wildlife and communities in Africa.
Our goal is to raise $250,000 this fall in support of a wide range of programs in regions where our field partners are working on the ground to help elephants in the wild.

The Problem
Over 30 years ago, elephants numbered more than 1 million. Now, that number is only half. By 2025, elephants could be lost in a number of countries across Africa. One of the main threats to elephants is conflict with humans.

Where human and elephant populations overlap, problems often occur. Elephants raid crops, causing threats to villages and the livelihoods of farmers. Because of this, there is little political or community will to protect elephants. Without the support of local communities, poaching for the illegal ivory trade will continue to dramatically increase.

The Solution
We partner with conservation groups who work to reduce threats and promote harmony between people and wildlife. For example, posting beehives on fence lines wards off curious elephants and prevents crop raids.

We also support programs that hire local community members for anti-poaching efforts and to actively monitor and protect wild elephant populations. These programs support the livelihood of communities while also safeguarding elephants.

Our partners also identify and support innovative initiatives to prevent ivory trafficking and reduce demand for ivory products.

With your help, we can turn the tide against the illegal ivory trade and protect wildlife and communities in Africa.

What Can You Do?
Check out our online auction that opened today. Bid on your favorite items - all proceeds benefit elephant conservation

Get educated: attend our upcoming Elephant Open House to learn more about these incredible creatures and see them up close.

Attend the upcoming Feed Your Wildlife Gala and hear from Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants.

Join us and other friends in Houston on a March for Elephants on October 4, starting at City Hall.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo's Commitment to Conservation - Madagascar

I am still in Madagascar after leaving almost immediately for the field after the ZACC conference, but I wanted to send you a few photos from our work up north with the Northern sportive lemur, Lepilemur septentrionalis.  The northern sportive lemur is considered Madagascar's most critically endangered lemur and arguably the most endangered primate in the world with less than 50 individuals remaining in basically one tiny location near the northern port city of Antsiranana.  Its major threat is the loss of habitat through the production of charcoal. Since the Northern sportive lemur cannot be kept in captivity, the preservation of this species is depending on the work of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and its partners, the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP's website is, and Susie's McGuire's international education NGO, Conservation Fusion (CF's website is Besides monitoring the lemurs in the forest of Montagne des Fran├žais, we are collaborating and supporting reforestation efforts and other programs aimed at providing alternative resources besides charcoal such as bio-fuel briquettes and fuel efficient rocket stoves designed to burn these circular shaped briquettes.

I have attached a couple of photographs of the MBP's team holding a sedated male Northern sportive lemur that we have placed a radio-collar to help us follow him, along with two of the posters that the primary schools of Des Moines made for the MBP and Conservation Fusion for the ZACC conference.  We loved the posters and wanted to send the Des Moines primary schools a couple of photos showing that their posters are now on the other side of the world in Madagascar, being taken around to show the Malagasy primary schools children located in area of our four permanent project sites that US kids are thinking about Madagascar and their wondrous biodiversity.

Thank you again for doing a fantastic job of hosting the ZACC conference in Des Moines. Blank Park's ZACC got us revitalized and ready to get back to the field.  It was such a pleasure visiting Blank Park Zoo, and it is great to know about the wonderful things your zoo is doing just around the corner from Omaha.

Best wishes, 
Ed Louis
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Brevard Zoo - Oyster Restoration in the Indian River Lagoon

 Brevard Zoo, Melbourne Florida
 Oysters:  One Selfless Shellfish
The oyster restoration project is as unique and diverse as the estuary it works to restore.  The Indian River Lagoon is the most biologically diverse estuary in the continental United States with over 4,000 plant and animal species considering it home.  This treasure exists right here in our own back yards and needs our help!
Why oysters?! Oysters are filter feeders that improve water quality and clarity by filtering water –one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day! Oysters are also a food source and provide habitat for many species of fish, birds, and invertebrates, and oyster reefs stabilize and protect shorelines. But, oysters face a number of threats including overharvesting, habitat degradation, reduced water quality, disease, and boat wakes.
The Oyster Reef Restoration Project was started in 2005 by Dr. Linda Walters of the University of Central Florida and now includes Brevard Zoo and many community partners. The oyster mats—constructed from mesh and oyster shells—are placed in the Indian River Lagoon to provide a natural substrate for oyster larvae to settle. Results show that the oyster mat restoration technique as very successful - after one year in the water, an average of 93 new oysters settled on each mat!
This project is a community based restoration project, which means that without the help of our friends and neighbors we can’t save our lagoon.  Thanks to approximately 36,000 volunteers since the project started, together with the project partners, we constructed more than 35,000 oyster restoration mats to restore 61 reefs in Mosquito Lagoon.
The project is recognized in schools, parks, and even in the lagoon by boaters as a community project that is working to save these selfless shellfish.  If the oyster population becomes stabilized, it will mean a cleaner, clearer, less eroded lagoon with an abundance of habitats for 149 species.  All of these goals are possible, with the help of community volunteers eager to help. 
Contact Project Coordinator Jody Palmer at to learn more or just stay tuned to the ZACC blog for exciting updates on the project!
Be sure to check your community for a shellfish restoration project as there are many great efforts happening all over the globe.  If nothing else, be sure to recycle your oyster shells by returning them to your local bay or estuary where they can be a habitat for lots of little friends in need!
Keep on shuckin’!!      

Jody Palmer
Brevard Zoo
Oyster Restoration Project Coordinator
8225 N. Wickham Rd.
Melbourne, FL  32940
321.254.9453 ext. 265