News Release

May 15, 2015                        
Andrea Rodgers                               Sharon Dewar                    Sondra Katzen
Shedd Aquarium                              Lincoln Park Zoo                CZS/Brookfield Zoo
(312) 692-3258                                (312) 742-2246                   (708) 688-8351    

Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo Mobilize
To End Extinction of World’s Most Vulnerable Species

Chicago zoological leaders bring risk of extinction to the public forefront
May 15, Endangered Species Day.

CHICAGO – Honoring the 10th anniversary of Endangered Species Day, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago’s Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and the 226 other zoological organizations across North America accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), proudly announce a collective commitment to a new effort focused on saving the world’s most vulnerable species from extinction and restoring them to healthy populations in the wild. 
The initiative – SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) – strategically aligns conservation researchers, scientists and rescue and rehabilitation organizations and resources from around the world with the collective 180 million annual visitors to zoos and aquariums to help protect habitats, eliminate threats and restore populations to sustainable levels in the wild. 
Working intensively over the past two years, leadership within the AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium community have worked to identify more than 100 species that are facing the greatest threats, are critical to maintaining overall ecosystems, and allow zoos and aquariums to contribute the unique conservation and scientific knowledge available to helping save them.  Meetings with scientists and stakeholders from around the world to identify factors threatening species, influence the development of new Conservation Action Plans, and confirm the further need to engage the public on the importance of saving these animals.
In 2015, SAFE will focus on ten inaugural species from that list, including: African penguin, cheetah, sharks and rays, Western pond turtle, sea turtles, vaquita, Asian elephants, black rhinoceros, gorilla and whooping crane – many of which Shedd, Lincoln Park and Brookfield are involved in conservation initiatives with and that local residents can learn about and see in-person by visiting one of the three Chicago organizations.  
“The goal of SAFE is to forge stronger, more collaborative recovery efforts to create a substantial impact for endangered species as a united front,” said Kevin J. Bell, President and CEO of Lincoln Park Zoo. “Conservation and learning at accredited zoos and aquariums, in partnership with local and federal agencies, have been key to wildlife recovery efforts, including animals on the ground such as the black-footed ferret to those in the sea such as the green sea turtles and those in the air like the California condors. While our efforts have saved some, we have lost others in the wild.”
Bell added that today, a few species that are thought to be extinct in the wild can only be seen in aquariums and zoos – a strong reminder of the privilege it is for zoos and aquariums to be able to work with and learn from the animals in their care and how much further there is to go in ensuring they are endure for future generations to come.
Every year for at least the next decade, 10 or more species will be added to the initiative based on the most current science and the availability of resources. 
“Many wildlife populations throughout the world are suffering dramatic declines in size or are already wiped out,” said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society. “Habitat loss and degradation and the consequences of climate change are likely to further reduce the survival of many species, disrupt their distributions and disturb ecological function.  Through our collective efforts here in Chicago, we are working to improve the chances for many of them and the animals in our care serve as ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild.”
Between Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo, more than 7.4 million guests, including more than 547,000 students annually will have the opportunity to receive more information about how they can take personal steps to support the 91 global conservation programs already being led by the three facilities, as well as help ensure these important species thrive for generations to come.
“As aquariums and zoos, it is our responsibility to bring light to the imminent dangers these amazing creatures face and to inspire people to care and make a difference through the stories we tell, the educational experiences we offer and the opportunities we provide to allow for personal connections to be built between our guests and animals,” said Ted A. Beattie, President/CEO of Shedd Aquarium. “We want the public, for one day, to stop and consider what extinction looks and feels like. You don’t have to be a scientist to take action to help endangered species – the everyday choices you make can help protect them.”
Earlier today, Chicago zoos and aquariums provided special events and activities spotlighting the endangered species in their care and the important research being conducted by each organization onsite and in the field to help save them.  Efforts were designed to help the public consider how profound the loss of these animals would be if actions are not taken, and what concrete steps guests could take to help protect them in the wild. 
For more information about AZA SAFE visit

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Sondra Katzen
Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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