Atlanta (May 15, 2015) – Today is the 10th Anniversary of Endangered Species Day, and to highlight the growing importance of working on saving endangered species from extinction, Georgia Aquarium will have several endangered animals “vanish” from their exhibits. African penguins, whale sharks, coral reefs, sea horses, and the American alligator will be featured as the exhibits showcase what it would be like if none of these species existed.

“We live in a world where many animal species are seeing rapid population decline. Imagine a world without African penguins and the devastating loss that would be to our planet, but we are in a position to do something about it,” said Scott Higley, Georgia Aquarium vice president of marketing and external affairs. “We encourage all of our guests to pause and really think about the tragedy of extinction. This collaborative effort with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and other zoological facilities hopefully inspires and motivates others to join us in our efforts to save animals from extinction.”


The “vanishing” animals from Georgia Aquarium are part of a larger, national effort organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, of which Georgia Aquarium is a member. Specifically, the 229-accredited members of the AZA are coming together in a variety of ways to help the public consider what it would be like to not be able to see, learn from or connect with these incredible animals again. This is to raise awareness of the efforts to save animals from extinction and to help launch AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE).


For decades, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been leaders in species survival, and are already working to restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor and a variety of aquatic species. 


Through SAFE, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will convene scientists and stakeholders globally to identify the factors threatening species, develop Conservation Action Plans, collect new resources and engage the public.


In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for the next 10 years. The inaugural 10 species include: African penguin, cheetah, sharks, Western pond turtle, Asian elephant, Black rhino, gorilla, sea turtle, Vaquita, and Whooping crane.


“AZA aquarium and zoo conservationists have identified more than 100 species facing the greatest threats and where accredited zoos and aquariums have unique conservation and science knowledge to contribute,” said Jim Maddy, AZA President and CEO.  “Today, we’re demonstrating just how profound the loss would be if we don’t take action now to protect wildlife. More importantly, we are also explaining to the public just what AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are doing to save animals from extinction.” 


Georgia Aquarium is involved with numerous research and conservation efforts in partnership with local and international institutions. Some include, coral restoration in the Florida Keys of Staghorn and Elkhorn corals, the study of African penguin health and nutrition and the role it plays in their conservation, and extensive whale shark research and conservation in Mexico.

Public Asked to Help Save Animals from Extinction
One of the easiest conservation actions the public can take is to visit Georgia Aquarium.  Doing so directly supports the collaborative efforts of hundreds of researchers, field conservationists and scientists from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums working to save animals from extinction.


For more information, visit georgiaaquarium.org and follow the online conversation on May 15 via #savingspecies.

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ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga., is one of the world’s most dynamic aquariums—containing more than 10 million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of Georgia Aquarium is to be a premier scientific institution delivering an awe-inspiring entertainment experience which supports animal research and conservation; inspires learning; and instills a passion for the aquatic world.  Its exhibits and programs are of the highest standards, offering engaging guest encounters that promote the conservation of marine biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.

ABOUT AZA SAFE: SAVING ANIMALS FROM EXTINCTION

AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo & aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit AZAsavingspecies.org.