The unknown mission of zoos

deux-semaines-vingtaine-tortues-molles(GRANBY) It is more going on in zoos as you might imagine. In addition to providing public access to the animal world, they work to better know and protect different species. As do other institutions, the Granby Zoo invests in research and conservation of animals here and abroad. Light on these unknown missions.

The enclosure of wild Africa, the hippo pool and the large meadow occupied by African elephants and giraffes are among the most popular corners of the visitors at the Granby Zoo. But out of sight, hidden on the side of the reception pavilion, a discreet trailer building houses an amazing laboratory. It was here, two years ago, as soft-spiny turtle, a threatened species in Quebec are born.

“We work a lot on the turtle Softshell Lake Champlain for his recovery. It picks up the eggs, they are incubated in captivity and then returns the youth a few months later in kind, “says Patrick Paré, conservation and research director at the Granby Zoo.

Last June 22 spiny softshell have been released into the Pike River in Pike River. In two weeks, twenty others, aged ten months, will join them. To push the research further, five of these reptiles have been fitted with a transmitter microphone, a feat of arms made possible thanks to the dexterity of the Zoo vet who managed to sew (with melting points) on their carapace. “We want to know where they will go. Did they will go to Lake Champlain? Do they remain in the river? Do they try to go a little streams? We want to know. It can help improve survival rates when they are placed in the water, “said the biologist.

This project is part of the conservation policy and research at the Granby Zoo. Launched in 2013, it comprises three areas: the preservation of biodiversity, animal welfare at the Zoo (see box: Flamingos and bats) and veterinary medicine.

One of the first mandates Zoo was proceeding with the flora and fauna inventory Miner woodlands, this great forest of 135 hectares purchased by the City of Granby and transformed into a natural park. Zoo biologists have identified forty wetland inventory snakes, bats, small mammals (mice, shrews, voles, field mice), the tracking process larger mammals winter. They mandated the bird watchers club Haute-Yamaska ​​to search for Ornithology. “They did an excellent inventory. It was a work of more than 150 hours of observation, “notes Paré.

These inventories serve as database for the protection of these species, it reported. “The City has protected woodland in perpetuity. It’s good news. Our role at the Zoo is now to optimize the protection of those species. For us, the importance of finding those animals, this is how to behave woodlands. Are they are friendly enough for species like that? They also want to see if their prey is sufficient. So this is the acquisition of knowledge. eventually we will be able to disseminate this knowledge with our citizens. ”

In two weeks, twenty spiny softshell turtle, aged ten months, will be released into the Pike River in Pike River. Five of them were equipped with a transmitter microphone. “We want to know where they will go. Did they will go to Lake Champlain? Do they remain in the river? Do they seek to put together a small brooks? We want to know. It can help improve survival rates when they are placed in the water, “says biologist Patrick Paré.

A partnership with Concordia University was used to analyze the habitat at Zoo Japanese macaques. A similar study is underway for the wallabies. Are their habitats suitable? asks Mr. Paré. “What we want to know the bottom is: is it that animals are good, are they experiencing stress, is that the visitor is a positive or negative enrichment?”

Internationally, the Granby Zoo assists African biologists in a conservation project at the Campo Ma’an National Park in Cameroon. Nearly 700 lowland gorillas inhabit the site. The project, says Paré, is to learn about the habitat of the animal, to support the fight against poaching and educate neighboring communities for their support.

The biologist will visit Africa in the coming months to continue this collaboration.

The final component of the research concerns veterinary medicine. Zoo veterinarians continue to improve their techniques and approaches on all issues related to the prevention, nutrition, anesthesia methods of castration and medication. All data and findings are shared in all the zoos, said Mr. Paré. “In terms of research and knowledge, there is no competition between us. We share everything for the welfare of animals. ”

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