Audubon Zoo Raises Awareness on World Elephant Day
"Watermelon Stomp" to help raise funds for elephants conservation
Audubon Zoo will spotlight the urgent plight of elephants and the many challenges facing the majestic animal in the wild on World Elephant Day, Friday, August 12, 2016.The annual awareness event at Audubon Zoo will continue on Saturday August 13 when guests can take part in a 3:30 p.m. "watermelon stomp'' starring the Zoo's two female Asian elephants, Panya and Jean.
Audubon Zoo will spotlight the urgent plight of elephants and the many challenges facing the majestic animal in the wild during World Elephant Day activities, which begin Friday, August 12, 2016.
The annual awareness event at Audubon Zoo continues on Saturday August 13 when guests can take part in a 3:30 p.m. "watermelon stomp'' starring the Zoo's two female Asian elephants, Panya and Jean.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on both days, zookeepers will host an "Elphie'' station near the elephant exhibit in the Asian Domain where guests can participate in children's activities, learn about daily elephant enrichment activities and get information about the 'watermelon stomp'' raffle.
The stomp raffle offers chances to win prizes - including an elephant barn tour and passes to Audubon attractions - for guessing which watermelon Panya and Jean will leave unscathed.
All monetary proceeds benefit the Sumatran Conservation Response Units funded by the International Elephant Foundation, which supports elephant conservation, education, research and management programs worldwide. The stomp will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"World Elephant Day is a wonderful way to provide the public with opportunities to experience the beauty and intelligence of these magnificent animals and the threats facing the species. This annual event gives us another chance to share information and ideas about the worldwide plight of elephants and what can be done to ensure their survival into the future. By keeping the conversation going, we can keep our guests informed, educated and empowered to help prevent the extinction of these incredible animals.''
Both Asian and African elephant populations are in crisis. While human-elephant conflict and habitat loss are rapidly shrinking Asian elephant numbers, Africa's elephants are being killed at an alarming rate to supply the world ivory trade.
- Each year, poachers in Africa slaughter about 35,000 elephants - an average of 96 elephants a day. Too often, the elephant deaths are magnified by the murder of wildlife rangers dedicated to protecting them.
- Those grim facts led to the creation of 96Elephants.org which is dedicated to uniting a range of organizations to coordinate and leverage their collective influence, constituencies and resources to save African elephants from extinction.
- The United States has been the second largest consumer of illegal ivory after China. In response to efforts by conservation groups, the federal government recently enacted a near-total ban on the sale of ivory in the United States to protect elephants.
- The current poaching crisis differs from that of previous eras, when individuals were driven to kill elephants and sell their tusks largely to feed their families. In recent years, sophisticated criminal enterprises have gotten involved in response to high demand from the Chinese who consider carved ivory to be a high-status commodity.
- The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) identified elephants as one of the 10 SAFE Signature Species on which to focus planning and conservation action. Since that time, experts from the AZA zoological community, non-profit conservation organizations, and government agencies, have gathered for strategic meetings to identify current population threats and the conservation actions needed to address them.
- In recent years, 30 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums took part in a variety of field conservation projects benefiting Asian elephants. Between 2010 and 2014, the AZA community invested more than $1.5 million in Asian elephant conservation, plus an additional $650,000 to support organizations such as the International Elephant Foundation.
Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.