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This is how Xavier Manteca, one of Spain’s most prominent experts in biodiversity and a professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, expressed his concern. Looking at the high percentage of species that are currently in critical danger of extinction, threatened or vulnerable, Manteca supports the role payed by zoos to counteract the current trends through knowledge, education, and research.
“We are not realizing the amount of scientific information about animal species that is produced by zoological institutions”, stated the expert, who also moderates the Biodiversity Experts’ Focus Group promoted by the Parques Reunidos Foundation.
He also pointed out that zoos can be both a place of leisure and entertainment as well and educational tools, thus providing useful knowledge about the preservation of species in their natural habitats, and promoting conservation programs both in situ and ex situ.
Manteca added that one of the main roles of zoos is their contribution to educating and raising awareness among their visitors about the current biodiversity crisis and about the negative effect it can have on natural ecosystems and on our general wellbeing.
Promoted by the Parques Reunidos Foundation, this Focus Group has been created with the objective of bringing together a multidisciplinary team of experts focused on biodiversity and conservation of species, and aims to promote greater collaboration between the different institutions. This effort is in line with the Foundation’s social and environmental engagement through the “Parques Reunidos Spirit”.
The Group is possible thanks to the participation of the following:
They have all meant to highlight the need to foster all initiatives aimed at improving the conservation of ecosystems and the protection of animal species. They took the change of the first meeting to debate about how zoo can contribute to mitigate the biodiversity crisis.
One million species at risks of extinction
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has recently warned the international community that one million animal and vegetal species are at the verge of becoming extinct.
Similarly, the data presented by the UN report on biodiversity seriously questions the viability of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), that are currently guiding many public policies. Last year, during the UN Convention of Biodiversity, the Convention’s executive director, Cristiana Pasca Palmer, made a statement to The Guardian in which she said that “the loss of biodiversity is a silent death (…). It is different to climate change, whose impact can be felt on our daily lives. The loss of biological diversity will be noticeable when it’s too late”.