Visit a Zoo!

Atlantic Sea Nettle, Monterey Bay Aquarium

You can see a new link in the sidebar: The Biodiversity Project. Joel Sartore, a National Geographic contributing photographer, has been working to make a record of species that we may not get to see alive in their own skins for much longer. The images are wonderful--you can buy prints if you wish to own one or support the project--but the sentiment behind them is even better. As he says on his website, "It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we're actually saving ourselves."

Grey Wolf

at the Western North Carolina Nature Center

So why bring up visiting a zoo? As Joel points out, accredited zoos and aquariums work to help maintain the vitality of species through breeding programs. They educate visitors on the standing of these species on the scale of extinction, the causes of this extinction and the role of humanity in these extinctions. But even more important that the education they provide, even more important than the breeding programs they promote, zoos and aquariums allow us to wonder at and enjoy the beauty and idiosyncrasies of a species not our own.

Killdeer, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Besides gaining an appreciation for these other species, of course, your presence at a zoo or aquarium contributes admission fees and perhaps profits from other merchandise available at the venue.  In addition, you can become a member of accredited zoos and aquariums, providing them with the financial ability to sustain their own breeding programs and the costs associated with year-long operation that may not be completely covered outsides of the tourist season.

A final note: for simply adorable images of a killdeer chick, scoot on over to

Steve Creek Outdoors

. Way too much fun!

Sources:

Association of Zoos & Aquariums

,

Western North Carolina Nature Center

,  

The Biodiversity Project

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Monterey Bay Aquarium

,

Getting The Shot 

Bandit

Bandit

Bagging Falls

Bagging Falls