May 22 was the International Day for Biological Diversity – a day to celebrate the complexity of life on our planet. While the day was an opportunity to appreciate the way nature amazes and sustains us, we’re also faced with the scary truth: biodiversity is increasingly threatened by climate change. Impacts from climate change such as ocean acidification, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and interrupted seasonal cycles all have potential to negatively affect wildlife, and many species are already experiencing these disruptions.
That’s why on May 22, zoological institutions and wildlife conservationists around the world “Showed the Wild Face of Climate Change.” Through photographs, educational programs, and activities for their visitors, zoos and aquariums illustrated the connection between climate change and the survival of the animal species in their care, and expressed their commitment to returning the planet to safe levels of atmospheric CO2.
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“The ‘Show the Wild Face of Climate Change’ initiative was the largest single-day global zoo event in history,” said George Rabb, President Emeritus of the Chicago Zoological Society and former Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “The success of this day for climate change action is a good omen for future campaigns to engage zoos to recruit their visitors and members as global citizens with responsibilities for the global commons of the atmosphere, waters, available lands, and biodiversity.”
Seventy-one organizations from 25 countries and spanning all seven continents and all regions of the globe submitted, and shared through social media, more than 250 photographs of animals along with the logo of the climate change initiative “Zoos & Aquariums for 350.” Over 150 species were represented, ranging from familiar species like polar bears, orangutans, and cheetahs to the lesser known Polynesian tree snails, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, and Malayan flying fox.
350 parts per million is considered the upper safe limit of carbon in the atmosphere. Currently, levels are around 400 ppm and rising. Impacts from climate change such as ocean acidification, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and interrupted seasonal cycles all have potential to negatively affect wildlife, and many species are already experiencing these disruptions.
"Show the Wild Face of Climate Change" put a face to the urgency of addressing climate change and indicated zoological institutions’ solidarity with the global climate change movement led by 350.org. The photos and their descriptive captions, which can be viewed, downloaded, and shared by visiting https://flic.kr/s/aHsjWNxCqt, will be presented to government decision makers around the world to continue to raise awareness about this issue.
Please feel free to submit your Show the Wild Face of Climate Change photos on any day of the year!
Take a photo of one of your species. The photo should contain a sign with the Zoos and Aquariums for 350 logo on it. Have a keeper/director/team hold up the sign in front of/with the species, or have the animal hold it themselves if that works.
Submit the photo and photo caption using this form: http://www.cbsg.org/content/wild-face-climate-change. The caption can be a short description of why this species shows the “Wild Face of Climate Change,” such as how it has altered their habitats, caused their populations to decline, etc. Keep it short and simple—it should be no more than one or two sentences.