The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Regional

May 30, 2013

Zoo Tales: Zoo’s Field Conservation Programs Saving Endangered Species

Thursday, May 30, 2013 —

Every year we put more and more pressure on the natural world, asking it to give us more and more natural resources. Throughout the world, human populations are increasing at an alarming rate--particularly in the developing countries. Many scientists think that we've already passed the point where we can fully replenish Earth's natural resources.

Unfortunately, this rapid consumption of our natural resources threatens the very survival of many animal species. Unchecked consumption of these resources and our pollution of the environment is reeking havoc on the natural world.

"If we do not change how we interact with the natural world in significant ways, we will soon run out of resources, disrupt the ecosystems in which we live and push hundreds--if not thousands--of species into extinction," said North Carolina Zoo Director Dr. David Jones.

Jones' view is that every major biological institution around the world should play a significant role in the maintenance of biodiversity and, in so doing, help to ensure the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Only through these institutions, including the N.C. Zoo, making a significant contribution as part of that wider biological and conservation community can we hope to stabilize the situation for our children and grandchildren, Jones said.

In light of that need for, and commitment to, international conservation, the N.C. Zoo (in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society) launched the Cross River Gorilla Research & Monitoring project in Central and West Africa to help save that continent's most endangered gorilla.

Inhabiting the rugged highlands of the Nigerian-Cameroon border, the Cross River gorilla is the most critically endangered of all the African apes and one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. Less than 20 years ago, scientists rediscovered this gorilla subspecies, once thought to be extinct. Only about 300 Cross River gorillas are believed to survive today, their disappearance brought on mainly by illegal hunting and habitat destruction.

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