Teaching zoo visitors raise $8K for animal conservation programs

When visitors of the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainesville purchase their tickets to enter the facility, they choose where to donate 25 cents of the ticket price. The program is known as “Quarters for Conservation.”

On Dec. 27th, the zoo announced that Quarters for Conservation raised $8,041.73 to support wild animals.

This year the funds are going to be split by the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) and the IUCN SSC Otter Specialist Group (OSG), according to an announcement on the zoo’s Facebook page. 

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“ARCI is a non-profit whose mission is to conduct rigorous research that stimulates and informs effective conservation action for vulnerable species of birds,” the post said. “They provide reliable, difficult to obtain data to wildlife managers in federal, state, and county agencies so that they can save our wildlife treasures in the most cost-effective and enduring ways.” 

The post said Quarters for Conservation funds went to study “two fascinating water birds of great conservation concern” in Florida: the reddish egret, and the limpkin.

“We’ve been a subject of that twice,” Dr. Ken Meyer, ARCI’s senior conservation ecologist and executive director said about being a recipient of funds from the program.

Meyer co-founded ARCI in 1997, after serving as a post-doctoral associate and research associate at the University of Florida from 1988 to 1992.

Dr. Ken Meyer

Meyer’s bio on the ARCI website states that, “he conducted studies of red-cockaded woodpeckers and the bird communities of South Florida pinelands for the National Park Service in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park.”

For 23 years, Meyer has headed up ongoing projects with both of the birds that the donation is earmarked for.

“There are always new questions to address,” he said about researching the species. He said his job is to “produce data that allows agencies to manage lands and save imperiled species.” 

Meyer said he is grateful for the funding that will allow him to continue to provide information on not only the reddish egret and the limpkin, but also on his further studies such as the tracking of the swallow-tailed kite.

The OSG promotes wise management of otters in the wild and in captivity through ongoing collaboration with zoos, according to the teaching zoo.  The group also promotes research, conservation and management programs for 13 species of otters. Part of the funds are designated to efforts supporting Asian-small clawed otters. 

To learn more about ARCI research, click here.

To learn more about OSG research, click here.

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