Photo Ark feature on CNN and 13,000 species announcement
The Photo Ark will be returning to its roots at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo and hitting the road to showcase some truly spectacular animals in a special episode of CNN International’s Quest Means Business this afternoon, July 21st.
Be sure to tune in at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT as Joel heads back to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, where the Ark began, to photograph some pretty unique animals — from the scaly and rare to the prickly and cute.
After visiting the Children’s Zoo, the Ark travels to Verve Biotech, a research facility that plays an important role in researching, developing and producing vaccines and medical treatments using the venom of invertebrates and reptiles.
While at Verve Biotech, Joel photographs some rather interesting species, including a peach earth tiger tarantula, and a Florida vinegaroon, which can secrete a foul-smelling liquid similar to vinegar.
Among the animals that board the Ark during this episode is a gray tiger salamander, an uncommon variant of tiger salamanders. This species joins the Photo Ark from the Nebraska Sandhills, one of the best, and last, strongholds for aquatic animals in the United States due to limited urban and agricultural development in the region.
Also featured on the episode is a very special guest, the Photo Ark’s 13,000th species!
The spoon-billed sandpiper (Calidris pygmaea) is an exceptionally rare shorebird that features a unique bill, shaped like a miniature spoon at the end. These birds are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, due to habitat loss and degradation along with being hunted and trapped across their range.
The critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper is a ‘flagship’ species for the conservation of vital wetlands for migratory waterbirds along the East Asian-Australasian flyway — which stretches from the far north of Russia to the south of New Zealand. Protecting these charismatic wading birds, known affectionately as the spoonie, will help save millions of other birds and the wetlands they inhabit on the flyway.
With the population of spoon-billed sandpipers plummeting, mainly due to habitat loss, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) took a leading role in efforts to buy time to reverse this trend. This included trialing a conservation breeding project at WWT headquarters in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire where significant advances were made in incubation and rearing methods. These methods have since been used in many other species recovery projects.
The efforts to save the spoonie also included an innovative technique called headstarting — which involves collecting eggs from the wild and incubating them at a special facility in Chukotka, Russia. After hatching, the chicks are raised by aviculturists and released into the wild when they are past the most vulnerable time in their life. While headstarting was used to help slow the decline of the species by increasing productivity five-fold, other urgent work included satellite tracking projects to identify stop-over sites along the birds’ migratory flyway. These critical sites are now the focus of conservation efforts with many of them protected – including the Yellow Sea World Heritage Site in China and the Republic of Korea. WWT now supports better conservation and restoration of these key sites and is looking for more projects in the region to support.
As well as the spoon-billed sandpiper, WWT is at the forefront of efforts to save threatened wetland species around the world – from black-tailed godwits in the Fens of East Anglia in the UK, to the Madagascar pochard on remote Lake Sofia in Madagascar. The focus of this work is on the creation and restoration of the healthy wetland habitat that these iconic birds, as well as tens of millions of individuals of other species, need to survive. As well as being essential for biodiversity, wetlands also prevent flooding, store carbon and are vital for human health and wellbeing.
More animals continue to fly, swim, crawl and walk their way aboard the Ark as its 16th anniversary draws closer. This August the Photo Ark will be turning 16, so be on the lookout for more news as we celebrate!