2 WAZA news 3/12Wolfgang W. Gettmann – Aquazoo DüsseldorfArthropods: Insects & Co Are Partof a Zoo Like Lions or Great ApesThe Invertebrate World at Aquazoo DüsseldorfZoo departments dedicated to the It is often surprising to learn that produce valuable fabrics while otherpresentation of arthropods, particu- insects constitute the class of animals insects produce valuable substanceslarly spiders and insects, are usually that by far covers the most diverse for use in pharmaceuticals and fruitcalled „insectariums“. The insectari- ranges of species. To date, around flies (Drosophilia) are the „pets“ ofum at the Aquazoo/Loebbecke-Muse- one million animals have been sci- genetic research. Even forensic sci-um in Düsseldorf is able to work from entifically described, which is more ence uses knowledge about insectsa long tradition as it was established than 60% of all known species. And to help solve crimes (entomologicalin 1976 when the institute was still, as countless insects and other arthro- forensics). And, last but not least,a result of the destruction caused dur- pods (spiders, isopods, crustaceans, more and more people are beginninging World War II, temporarily housed myriapoda, etc.) remain undiscov- to keep and breed insects, spidersin an air-raid shelter. It was here that ered. It is remarkable that the general and other arthropods as pets with thethe presentation already started to population is not very familiar with intention of studying these animalsbecome a highlight and very popular these animals and that it is becom- at home, of opening a „window onwith visitors. The dissemination of ing increasingly less knowledgeable nature“ or of just relaxing and observ-knowledge about the actual „rulers of about them as time progresses. Few ing them.the world“ – as insects are frequently school students, for example, areknown – was then already the objec- able to name any species of insect, The Aquazoo exhibits arthropods overtive and had been declared as such much less say anything about how an area of 103 square metres. Thereat a time when zoos did not always they live or behave. It is even fre- is also a further 23 square metres ofregard insectariums as essential. The quently too much for people intend- space and additional rooms behindpresentations developed at the „zoo ing to be trained as animal keeper to the terrariums which are not openbunker“, as the people of Düsseldorf list five species of insects or to explain to the public that the keepers use foroften called the institute, were so the difference between insects and their work and for breeding insects.highly informative and timeless that spiders. The first thing that comes to The presentation is divided into sec-to this day, 25 years after they were people’s minds when arthropods are tions by a giant star-shaped combi-relocated to the new premises in the mentioned is that insects are „pests“, nation of showcases and a partitionNordpark in 1987, they are still used that they can cause damage and wall, which uses illuminated graph-to inform broad audiences about the that they are detrimental to plants, ics and display cases to explain thelife of arthropods. wooden structures and food. Some basic structures of nine insect orders. people will perhaps also say that as A screen with „trackball“ allows parasites they are harmful to other visitors to penetrate deeper into the organisms and that they transmit subject matter by providing informa- diseases. But insects can also be tion about the „insect of the year“, by beneficial to humans. For instance, showing the Aquazoo’s special Inter- around 500 species of insects repre- net site that focuses on insects to be sent a valuable source of protein to called up, by enabling the world of many people around the world and insects in indigenous deciduous for- many insects also play a major role as ests to be explored and by presenting pollinators in agriculture. It wouldn’t a simple slide show of the world of be possible to make honey without arthropods. The Aquazoo’s Internet bees, for example, and ichneumon site does not only list many of the wasps help control pests, silkworms species according to the Arachnida, Crustacea, Myriapoda and Hexapoda groups that are or that were formerly kept at the Aquazoo, it is also home to a picture gallery, distribution maps and tips for breeding specific species.
8 WAZA news 3/12» When dealing more specifically, North American Butterfly Association, One would not expect much from a great example of zoos helping specific projects dealing with habitat such a study as spiders but it was an individual species can be seen specialists in small populations to ac- noted that during the creation of in a collaborative effort with the tual captive propagation for re-release. a series of booklets on the Biodiver- Lincoln’s Children Zoo, Henry Doorly Species that zoos are involved in in- sity of Toronto, that spiders had not Zoo’s Berniece Grewcock Butterfly clude: Mitchell’s Satyr, the Oregon Sil- been looked at in the region for 100 and Insect Pavilion, the State of verspot, Taylors Checkerspot, Schaus years. In cooperation with the Royal Nebraska’s Game and Parks Depart- Swallowtail, the Miami Blue, Fedder’s Ontario Museum, the Rouge Park and ment and the US Fish and Wildlife. Blue, the Puget Blue and of course the the Canadian Institute of Biodiversity The group has teamed up to work on Karner Blue Butterfly. at the University of Guelph, Toronto the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle (Cicindella Zoo worked on this survey. Results nevadica lincolniana). Considered In many cases, the state in which from this short study came up with one of the most endangered species a specific butterfly exists is ap- 125 species, 30 of which were new for in the United States with numbers proached by the staff of that zoo or the Toronto region and one was new only in the 100’s, it is listed as highly chooses to approach that zoo for for Canada. On top of this a speci- endangered. The species comes help. The experts within the state, men of Ontario’s only mygalomorph from an extremely rare habitat quite determines the need for a captive (primitive spiders containing the near human settlements and thus breeding project and they see the tarantulas) was found. The Northern has had problems. The zoos wish to zoo as being the experts in that field. Purse-web Spider, Sphodros niger breed and head start specimens for This shows the influence that zoos has only been found approximately re-introduction into several protected have made over the past few years. 12 times in Canada and officially areas where the beetle once dwelt. It One good example of this influence only just over 100 times in its entire is the role of the zoos to use their ani- is the Karner Blue Butterfly. Several range. Its rarity has placed it on the mal husbandry expertise to develop zoos including Roger William’s Park proposed endangered species list for protocols and provide the numbers to Zoo, Toledo Zoo, Detroit Zoo and Canada. This represented a new site make a difference. Toronto Zoo have been involved with not known before for this extremely this species for 20 years. The suc- rare species. Freshwater mussels have suffered cess of many education and captive drastically over the past several years. breeding for re-release projects have This is just an example of what has Pollution and the creation of dams shown federal and state officials that not been published in regards to for hydro electricity have played partnerships with zoos work. conservation efforts ongoing in North major roles as stressors for these America by zoos. This short discus- species. The Toronto Zoo has started Most of the information so far writ- sion has not covered work done on an awareness program for species in ten has been published already. But Partula snails, Mossy rock tarantulas southern Ontario, but South Carolina it must be mentioned that there is or blind cave crayfish. There is just Aquarium and Columbus Zoo are a vast amount of work being done on too little space. It is needless to say working on programs for 10 years invertebrates for conservation that that the zoos of North America are or more. Columbus Zoo has built has not yet been published. Toronto making their mark in the efforts to a special facility capable of breeding Zoo can be an example of this. It has support invertebrate conservation. and maintaining rare mussels found been mentioned that the Zoo has be- Partnerships have developed and in the State of Ohio. The facility uses gan a program of awareness for the zoos are being appreciated for what natural river water to maintain their freshwater mussels in Ontario and they can offer. populations. If some form of disaster that it has been involved in the effort occurs on the river, the facilities can to return the Karner Blue butterfly to maintain through an internal re-circu- Ontario. What isn’t mentioned is that lating system protecting the speci- they have been involved in butterfly mens from possible fatal mishaps. surveying for the Rouge Park and the eastern Toronto Region for 19 years, Butterflies are by far the most worked they have helped in surveying odo- on group of invertebrates within zoos. nates (dragonflies and damselflies) Programs range through several fields for over three years, they hosted the of expertise and levels of involve- first 24 hour “bioblitz” that identified ment. The BFCI alone is supported by over 1300 species in its first attempt over 40 zoos. There is the monitoring and recently they were the lead in of monarch butterfly populations a survey of the spiders within Rouge through Monarch Watch; annual but- Park, an urban wildlife park where terfly surveys that record data for the Toronto Zoo resides.