Pen Pals to Save Okapi: “How Do Zoos Help?”

Written by Mary Fields and M’monga Jean Paul

For this pen pals blog, we asked our conservation partner, Jean Paul from the Okapi Conservation Project, what he thinks about zoos. The first question we asked was, “What do you think of zoos and why are zoos good?” Here’s Jean Paul’s response:

Keepers Kendall and John talking to guests about how to help okapis in the wild.

Zoos bring people and animals together. By doing this, zoos have the potential to educate the public about conservation issues and inspire people to protect animals and their habitats. Zoos also carry out important research into subjects like animal behaviour and treating illnesses.”

Our second question was, “How do zoos help out animals in the wild?” His response was:

“Zoos protect species from going extinct. A species protected in captivity provides a reservoir population against a population crash or extinction in the wild. A good number of species only exist in captivity and still more only exist in the wild because they have been reintroduced from zoos. Without these efforts there would be fewer species alive today and the world as a whole would be poorer for it.”

Sukari is an ambassador for okapis in the wild.

We agree with Jean Paul, zoos are important! From helping out injured sea turtles from the Gulf of Mexico, to uniting with other AZA facilities to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise; the Houston Zoo and many other zoos are saving animals in the wild.

To help okapis in the wild, you can recycle your cell phones at the Houston Zoo’s entrance. And the easiest way to help is just by visiting the Houston Zoo! A portion of every admission and members fee goes to help programs like the Okapi Conservation Project.

Make sure to follow our blog to continue learning about okapi conservation and hear more from Jean Paul!



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