Speak with the CEO of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
At World Wildlife Dayy, on March 3, we celebrate and raise awareness about the world’s wild animals and plants every year. WWD reminds us of our responsibilities to our world and the life forms with which we share it. Travelers around the world understand the enormity of this mission.
San Diego Zoo around the world, one of the many companies working tirelessly for the good of animals, today made a major announcement in the conservation world, introducing its new brand: the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
We spoke with Paul Baribault, President and CEO of this newly appointed international non-profit conservation organization.
Lea: What prompted this rebranding?
Paul: We started 105 years ago and have continued an incredible conservation work, leading the fight against extinction, but now is the time to re-engage. We have a unique set of skills to help wildlife, and the best way to do this is to partner with other organizations and celebrate this alliance within our brand.
Besides San Diego Zoo Global, who is part of the alliance?
Our team has more than 200 conservation partners and more than 500 care specialists. We work together in three countries and six continents, as the first stop for endangered species.
What are some of these endangered species?
For many species, the situation is urgent. Unless immediate action is taken, it is believed that three species of rhino, two species of orangutans, Amur leopards, five species of dolphins, two species of gorillas, coral reefs and Hawksbill turtles will be extinct within a decade. At present, there are only two female northern white rhinos left on the planet.
What do you think is accelerating this situation?
Factors such as climate change and wildlife trafficking. As populations increase, the impact on forests and oceans is greater.
Can zoos or conservatories help?
Yes. At San Diego Zoo Safari Park we are pioneers in artificial insemination to bring back southern white rhinos. And we have two newborns! It’s exciting, but we’ll only be successful if we can bring back a whole herd.
In northern Kenya at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, we partner with a community-led organization on behalf of orphan animals. We need to protect animals around the world, and this conservation group has urged us to help.
I know you care about zoo animals as well, and I have read that they are also in danger during this pandemic time.
TSan Diego Zoo Safari Park gorilla troop recently contracted COVID-19. But thanks to the alliance’s concern, animals are now vaccinated with a purified recombinant spike protein from a limited supply intended strictly for non-human use. We remain vigilant, because our zoo and our safari park are now both open.
As someone who travels the world, can you share some of your favorite animal experiences?
One, of course, is the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti in East Africa. Millions of animals showing what a thriving ecosystem looks like. There is no such experience on earth.
Another special feature for me is when the Okavango Delta in Botswana floods and brings the region to life. This leads to magnificent elephant migrations. It’s wonderful how life thrives there with the seasons.
A favorite memory from a trip to Alaska was when I was walking with brown bears just a few feet away. You realize their power in nature. On the other hand, there are the Panda reserves in China, which we have supported for decades.
One of the best experiences – for any traveler – is going on a safari with an environmentalist, learning about wildlife and ecosystems.
What about people who cannot travel?
There are many ways to enjoy and learn about animals beyond zoos. It is important to learn about wildlife using webcams and interpretive elements on site and online. Our website presents all of our work.
Thank you Paul, on behalf of the world’s travelers and endangered animals. And congratulations on the vital work the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance will continue to do in the years to come.