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Wetlands are zoo’s focus
13 February 2012

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Activities have been lined up at the Johannesburg Zoo to place wetlands, their importance and their conservation firmly in the public’s eye.

ALL things wetland are on the Joburg Zoo menu this February, to mark World Wetlands Day.

Schoolchildren Learning about all things wetlandWorld Wetlands Day is held on 2 February each year, and the theme this year was Wetlands and Tourism. On the day – and indeed throughout the month – the focus is on the many attributes of wetlands from which humans can benefit, especially when it comes to tourism.

Several activities are planned at the zoo. An event to raise awareness of amphibian conservation will top the agenda, according to Candice Segal, the zoo’s marketing assistant. “A number of activities will be taking place, including an educational event called Wonderful Wetlands Days, a frog conservation walk, an evening amphibian talk and Leaping Ahead of Extinction Day,” she says.

Wonderful Wetlands Days will take place from 15 to 17 February. On these days, schoolchildren visiting the zoo will learn what makes healthy wetlands as well as what types of wildlife live in wetlands.

Learners will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of fun activities that include building a wetland, as well as paying the zoo’s own wetland habitat a visit to compare the models they have built with the real deal.

Emphasis will be placed on animals that live in wetlands, such as frogs and cranes. “Pupils will be able to visit two of the zoo’s conservation programmes aimed at saving endangered species becoming locally extinct,” says Segal.

Amphibians
The focus will shift towards the end of the month to events that are aimed at raising awareness about frogs and the conservation of amphibians.

On 26 February, the zoo will host a fundraising conservation walk. Then, on 29 February, Ian Visser the curator of reptiles, amphibians and fish, will conduct an evening tour and talk on the Amphibians Conservation Project.

AmphibiansOn the same day, from 9.30am to 12pm, the zoo will host its first Leaping Ahead of Extinction Day. Schools and zoo staff will enjoy Leap Frog Fun Day. The day’s activities will consist of a frog show and tell, a leap frog contest, save a frog team flag, and frog origami making.

“The new international event was launched by Amphibian Ark, a global conservation community dedicated to the conservation of amphibian species,” says Segal.

Wetlands inhabitants such as frogs, cranes and fresh water fish are at risk around the globe. In South Africa, over half of wetlands have been destroyed by human activities such as agriculture, mining and poor land management.

The zoo also invites schoolchildren and the general public to enter a competition to design a handwritten A2- or A3-size poster celebrating water and wildlife.

Explaining the purpose of the competition, Segal says it is to ignite the public’s creative side and get people thinking about the importance water in the lives of animals.

The closing date for the competition is 23 March. Entries can be handed in at the zoo, posted or emailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information about wetland month activities and competition details, please contact 011 646 2000, extension 260, or visit the zoo’s website.

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