• The conservation
meter can be found
on all animal exhibits
at the zoo.
• This meter shows
how well an animal
population is doing in
Ways that species become
endangered or extinct
• Competition with other
• Habitat loss
• Unregulated or illegal killing
• Pesticides and pollution
• Extinction is the disappearance
brought about by natural or
unnatural means of an entire
• Some species of plants and animals
die out naturally because newer
species are more successful at
competing for food and living space.
Others have become extinct due to
changes in the planet or natural
• The Saber-toothed Tiger, a prehistoric cat, once
roamed the earth between California and Argentina.
• It became extinct at the end of the ice age.
Humans a problem?
• In today's world, however, species mostly
become extinct or are threatened with
extinction because of humans. Humans
hunt animals, destroy their habitats, and
introduce other animals that prey upon the
endangered animals or compete for their
resources. Among these factors, the
greatest threat to plants and animals is
• Habitat loss takes several forms:
– Outright loss of areas used by wild species.
– Degradation- for example from vegetation removal and
erosion, which deprive native species of food, shelter, and
– Fragmentation- when native species are squeezed onto
small patches of undisturbed land because they are surrounded
by areas cleared for agriculture and other purposes.
Vegas Valley Leopard Frog
• The Vegas Valley leopard frog is extinct due to habitat
loss resulting from spring capture and ground water
pumping by the growing city of Las Vegas.
• Threatened species are any
species (including animals, plants,
fungi, insects, bugs, etc.) which are
vulnerable to extinction in the near
• Threatened species can be
grouped into three categories
depending on the degree to which
they are threatened
• Critically endangered is when a species is
facing extremely high risk of extinction in the
wild in the immediate future.
Red wolves have many problems that threaten their future. The
expansion of agriculture, logging and human settlement cleared
the forest home of red wolves causing habitat destruction.
Between 1900 - 1920 red wolves were hunted because they
preyed on cattle this also led to their population decline.
• An endangered species is facing a high risk of extinction in the
near future. It means that something is attacking its home, its food
source, or directly attacking that species.
The black and white ruffled lemur, like most animals in Madagascar, are
endangered due to habitat destruction.
A species is considered vulnerable when it is facing a high risk of total
destruction in the medium to long term future.
• Matschie's tree kangaroos are a vulnerable species. They survive
only in a small area on the island of Papua New Guinea. Their
habitat destruction is being caused by logging, mineral, and oil
exploration. Also, hunting by local people is decreasing the number
of wild tree kangaroos.
A species is considered at low risk
when it has a favorable number of
species doing well in the wild.
• The Chilean flamingo is considered low risk however its natural
habitat is declining and it is a protected species.
• It is estimated that about 125 species of
birds and 60 species of mammals have
become extinct since 1600.
• Currently, there are approximately 1000-
1100 species of birds and mammals that
are threatened with extinction.
• If invertebrates and plants are included,
the total number of species in imminent
danger is around 20,000.
What are zoos doing about all this?
The American Zoological Association (AZA)
developed a program called the Species
Survival Plan (SSP).
This mission of the SSP is that each SSP
zoo manages the breeding of a species in
order to maintain a healthy and self-
sustaining population that is both
genetically diverse and demographically
Species Survival Plan
• The SSP program is used to help ensure the survival
of selected wildlife species.
• A species must satisfy a number of criteria to be
selected for an SSP. For example: considering how far
has the habitat destruction gone in their area and what
is the government in that area doing about it.
• Most SSP species are threatened, endangered or
critically endangered in the wild.
How do they do this?
Well kind of… The SSP matches up suitable mates
from zoos around the country. The zoos will
have the pairs meet at a hosting zoo for breeding.
Their offspring, when old enough, will either stay
at a zoo to continue breeding or be rereleased in
the wild in an effort to help sustain the species’