Promoting a legacy of love across generations
BY ROBIN R. GANZERT, PH.D.
There’s a saying I’m quite fond of: “You won’t protect what you don’t love, and you can’t love what you don’t know.” For many of us who have a deep connection with animals, our lifelong love affair began with a visit to the local zoo or aquarium when we were young – perhaps taken there on a visit or two with our grandparents. To this day, I feel like a kid again whenever I visit one. But if you had only ever seen lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, sharks, and penguins on television or read about them in books, would you have that same connection as you do today? No, I think to truly love and care for a living thing your experience has to be up close and personal.
On the brink of extinction
For so many species on the brink of extinction, their last hopes might just depend on zoos and aquariums. Not only do they serve as lifeboats for many endangered animals, they cultivate new generations of animal lovers who will be committed to keeping these magnificent creatures alive. And there’s no time to waste. Scientists and conservation experts believe Earth is experiencing a “Sixth Extinction,” with species disappearing at a rate 8-100 times higher than expected since 1900. Without safe sanctuaries and a population dedicated to their survival, many of the creatures we love today might not be around by the time our grandkids have children of their own.
Thanks to zoos and aquariums, people are becoming increasingly aware of and invested in the fate of the world’s animals. At the same time, they are also rightly demanding that the millions of creatures who live in human care at these institutions be afforded good treatment and welfare.
Join us in Humane Conservation™
To help, American Humane Association, which has led the global compassion movement for 140 years and is the world’s largest certifier of the humane treatment of animals, has just launched a Humane Conservation™ program, which certifies the humane treatment of animals in the world’s zoos and aquariums.
It’s the first certification program of its kind to focus solely on animal welfare, and features comprehensive standards created by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee consisting of the most well-respected, iconic names in animal welfare, animal ethics, and the conservation community.
This new Humane Conservation program will distinguish institutions that provide good care for their animals from those that need to improve their standards or close their doors. There definitely are bad actors out there, and the public ought to have a clear indicator to help them determine where to visit and support. This certification program is that guiding light for the responsible public.
Do your part
By visiting humane certified zoos and aquariums, we may all do our part to help preserve disappearing species, while continuing to enjoy and introduce our children and grandchildren to the magnificent creatures with whom we share the Earth.
To learn more about American Humane Association’s Humane Conservation program and to find a zoo, aquarium, or conservation park near you that has earned the Humane Certified seal, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org.
Dr. Robin Ganzert is the President and CEO ofAmerican Humane Association, the first national humane organization, and the only charity dedicated to the protection of both children and animals. She is the host of the weekly radio show “Be Humane with Dr. Robin Ganzert,” on Pet Life Radio, the number one pet network on the planet. In fall 2014 she published her first book,Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors. You can follow her on Twitter at @robinganzert.