The connection between humans and the natural world is diminishing. People are becoming less rural and more urban. We have entire generations that have never lived on farm or even visited one. These kids have never been around an animal other than a cat or dog in most cases. If they have been around anything else, it was mostly at a zoo, but zoos generally work to keep the public away from the animals. At best you are just "seeing" animals at a zoo, and not experiencing them. This diminished connection does not bode well for animals in captivity or even the wild. It's effects are already being felt in African and Asia as the populations of even common species are beginning to suffer. For instance, the giraffe population has declined by almost 50% in the last 15 years. Something must done to reverse the cycle... to strengthen the bond between people and the natural world... to inspire a new generation of caring and support for rare and endangered species.
That is why the Species Survival Fund is helping Tanganyika Wildlife Park with the first phase of their new children's zoo, which will include new and enhanced exhibits for an American albino alligator, African jackass penguins (that's their real common name), Asian small-clawed otters, and a stingray touch tank. The new exhibit will enclose the entire penguin area so they are no longer exposed to the dangers of bird flu and malaria from mosquito. In addition, it will allow the public to walk through the new exhibit on a slightly raised platform so they can be in with the penguins with supervision. The new exhibit will also include a much larger exhibit for the American alligator Luna. Luna is one of the last albino alligators to be born in the US since hurricane Katrina. There are only approximately 40 of them in the world!
Finally, the new large enclosure would include a stingray touch tank area. Next to the large new enclosure for the animal above, we would build a new Asian small-clawed otter exhibit. The new exhibit would include a large pool with an acrylic slide for kids to slide through. In addition, it would have an outdoor river/slide for the otters. These fun and amazing animals will be a spectacular edition to our interactive facility.
Why Tanganyika Wildlife Park? Great question. Jim and Sherri Fouts, the owners of Tanganyika Wildlife Park, have dedicated their lives to having a significant impact in the stewardship of select species. They have created and maintain more than 30 successful breeding programs for rare and endangered species like the Amur leopards, African honey badgers and Javan langurs. Many of those breeding programs are part of international breeding cooperatives for species like the clouded leopard and southern black rhino. Their impact for many of these species has been significant. For instance, they have increased the worldwide captive population of clouded leopards by nearly 15%.
While the preservation of these species would be enough, Jim and Sherri are also committed to educating the public about these amazing animals through entertaining and education experience at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. The highly interactive wildlife park boast interactive experiences such as Indian rhino feeding, pygmy hippo feeding, ring-tail lemur feeding, giraffe feeding, etc. Through the wildlife park, they have touched the lives of more than half a million people, but the project has become bigger than them. They have built first-class facility and a world-class collection of animals without any government subsidies like most zoo. They rely solely on the patronage of visitors AND YOU to help support the animals!