Virginia Zoo is honored and excited by the recent news that we have received from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums has awarded an 2015 International Training Grant to allow Virginia Zoo to partner with the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation to develop and implement a series of zoo-keeping training workshops for capacity building of animal care staff from five important zoo and wildlife care facilities in the Visayan Islands of the Philippines.
The Philippines is globally considered as one of the most important biodiversity conservation ‘hotspots’, both because of its high degree of biodiversity and endemism and degree of threats in many of its species. The two major threats to animal population are habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade. While many factors can be cited as reasons for these and these problems are now being addressed by various institutions, the survival of several threatened endemic species is still dependent upon captive breeding in zoos, breeding and conservation centers. In addition, confiscated wildlife (most of which were illegally traded as pets) end up in wildlife rescue centers and similar facilities and usually kept in poor condition.
The goal of this training project is to improve the overall welfare of captive wild animals in captivity through training on captive wild animal management and husbandry targeting curators, managers and head zookeepers in identified institutions in Negros, Panay and Cebu. These sites were chosen because of their accessibility to the proposed partner facility for this project which is the Biodiversity Conservation Center (BCC) in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
A small team from the international zoo community and headed by myself as project coordinator and recipient of the WAZA grant will work with the leadership from the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation to develop the materials for the workshops which we hope to implement in January/February of 2016.