Environmental facts (LTV broadcast on Saturdays 19:05)
The zoo currently has about 70 species whose life in the wild is seriously endangered and for which European conservation programs or pedigrees have been established, Ingmārs Līdaka, an educational specialist at the Riga Zoo, explained in the program “Environmental Facts”.
More than 50 species of animals are transported to and from the Riga Zoo every year. Wildlife life is often a serious threat to these species, and co-operation between zoos is essential for their conservation. “We can never know when the specific place where this species will disappear will be ready to release these animals into the wild,” said Pike.
The best zoos in Europe are united in the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which currently has more than 300 zoos and aquariums. According to Guna Vītola, the head of the animal collection of the Riga Zoo, the association is engaged in both public education and participation in research and nature protection.
The most successful wildlife conservation story in Latvia in recent years is related to two black vultures that hatched in Riga and in the zoo branch in Calvene “Cīrīļi” and in 2018 were sent to the Balkans. There they were released into the wild and equipped with transmitters. It was a very valuable addition to the black vulture population.
However, the transport of each animal is a painstaking task and each species has its own requirements, both in the choice of the transport box and the transport itself.
Vītols shared his memories of how a crocodile from Latvia went to the Czech Republic some time ago: “Our female crocodile female was taken to the Czech Republic in a box with a heating element. Moisture is also needed to keep the animal’s skin moist at all times. If the transport takes place in a hot summer, a cool ventilated room is required for almost all animals. “
In order to participate in animal conservation programs, zoos must meet certain criteria, and, according to Pike, one of the reference points is whether the animals in the zoo are breeding. “When an animal gives birth to a baby, it feels good and the conditions are right. If the baby is healthy and growing well, then there is proper nourishment, care and everything else. When the babies are born, they will inevitably have to separate from their parents after a long time and cannot turn the zoo into a single-species farm, ”explained Līdaka.
The transportation of each animal is evaluated and, if possible, a couple of the nearest zoos, such as Tallinn, Helsinki, or Warsaw, are selected for the animal at the Riga Zoo. But there are also further trips.
“Our Japanese cranes have gone to South Africa. Our seals, washed up and raised right on the shore, have traveled further to Korea, to Japan. Our lynx live in Japan, ”says Pike.
Strange as it may seem, it is easier to co-operate in the transportation of animals with carnivores – cats such as tigers and lions. It is more difficult with zebras, antelopes, which tend to run away in fear. That is why more and more zoos are starting to train animals for movement in good time – they are introduced to transport cages before being moved to make the animal as calm as possible and thus reduce the potential risks.
It must be remembered that zoos are not dimensionless, and when babies are born, they must separate from their parents, for example, in order not to form a close relationship. Of course, they are difficult to transport. It happens with ships, trucks, planes, sometimes the animals are accompanied by a police convoy.
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