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Press Release
For Immediate Release
For More Information
Contact Kathy Jury
Public Relations
At (416) 392-5939
 PDF Version

Launching Innovative Ways to Learn about the Conservation of Canadian Species
(While Having Fun)

April 22, 2004, Toronto, Ontario: Zoos and Aquariums Take Action, a collaborative project among Canadian zoos, launched today to highlight the fact that some Canadian species are urgently at risk, that Canadian zoos are doing something about it - and that you can help!

Zoo and Aquariums Take Action uses three components to inspire individuals to become more environmentally responsible and actively involved in the conservation of Canadian species. A key element is a new, hands-on, permanent Touch Table with interesting and rare objects, displays, and graphics. A computer is a component, so kids and adults can check out Zoo and Aquariums Take Action’s 2nd element, a fun, interactive website, . Staffed by dedicated Zoo Volunteers, the new Touch Table is located in the Zoo’s Americas Pavilion. There’s a 3rd element yet to come - a unique travelling display packed with lots of intriguing and interesting information, touchables, and ideas for positive action.

"The Government of Canada, through the Museums Assistance Program, a part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, is proud to provide financial assistance to Zoos and Aquariums Take Action." By making it possible for Canadian zoos to highlight their conservation projects, dialogue and share information, Zoos and Aquariums Take Action performs another vital service.

"There are so many amazing animal artefacts, fun, games, and activities you can't help but be inspired to take action for conservation!" comments Kelly Armstrong, the Toronto Zoo’s Volunteer Coordinator and Coordinator of the Zoos and Aquariums Take Action project. "Getting Canadians in touch with their natural heritage and introducing them to the amazing conservation work of their local zoos and aquariums is so important and this project does just that."

Due to habitat loss and degradation, over collection - hunting and fishing - the introduction of exotic species which threaten native animals, and to the pollution of their environment, many Canadian species are at risk. These include the humpback whale, the grizzly bear, the Polar bear, the Vancouver Island marmot and the Eastern spiny softshell turtle, to name just a few.

Want to learn more? Check out the Zoos and Aquariums Take Action Touch Table in the Americas Pavilion, go online at, or wait for the travelling display to hit your area!

Zoos and Aquariums Take Action
Fun Facts
  PDF Version

Canadian Zoos and Aquariums
  • 24 accredited Canadian zoos/aquariums, from British Columbia to New Brunswick, form the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)
  • CAZA members develop and participate in hundreds of conservation projects each year
  • CAZA Institutions participate in over 100 Species Survival Plans, North American breeding-management plans, operated by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
  • Toronto Zoo is Canada’s largest zoo with over 14,000 animals and 710 acres of exhibits, trails, and natural space
  • Bowmanville Zoo, in Bowmanville, Ontario is Canada’s oldest private zoo, dating back to 1919
  • Ontario has the most CAZA zoos (seven) but has no aquariums!


  • Toronto Zoo released 15 black-footed ferrets back into the wild in 2003, as part of its on-going black-footed ferret breeding and reintroduction program. The remaining 9 ferrets born in 2003 will be used in the breeding program.
  • Vancouver Island marmots are the most endangered animals in North America. There are fewer than 30 Vancouver Island marmots left in the wild today. In 2002, 13 Vancouver Island marmot pups were born at Toronto Zoo and are destined to return to their native habitat
  • The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre provides veterinary care and rehabilitation to injured turtles in Ontario. They treated 66 turtles in 2003, many of which will return to the wild this summer
  • Over 18 000 Puerto Rican crested toadlets were returned to the wilds of Puerto Rico in 2003 as part of the Puerto Rican crested toad breeding program and SSP

Take Action

  • Volunteers for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, organized by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, clean over 950km of shoreline and collect almost 50,000kg of garbage at this yearly event!
  • The Pacific Leatherback Turtle Awareness and Sightings Network and the Nova Scotia Leatherback Turtle Working Group collect turtle observations from Canadians on the east and west coasts through the Internet. In the summer of 1998, members of the Nova Scotia Leatherback Turtle Working Group logged 171 sightings of these turtles, establishing the species as a seasonal visitor to Atlantic Canada. Turtle "Jesse" was tagged in August 2003 and has travelled over 4000km since then - all the way to South America!
  • Kids 4 Turtles was started by a group of youngsters concerned about turtles crossing roads. The group raised funds for permanent turtle crossing signs and has grown into the successfully Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, a veterinary hospital dedicated to injured wild turtles. It just goes to show - anyone, no matter what age they are can make a big difference!