WAZA Welcomes New Members
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is pleased to have broadened its global membership base by recently welcoming five new members to the global zoo and aquarium community. Aquário Marinho do Rio de Janeiro was most recently accepted as a WAZA Institution Member this year, and joins other new members, Khon Kaen Zoo, Ubon Ratchathani Zoo, Chimelong Safari Park, Mahendra Chaudhury Zoological Park Chhatbir which joined WAZA towards the end of 2019.
Aquário Marinho do Rio de Janeiro (AquaRio) is located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is the largest aquarium in South America. The aquarium is home to over 5,000 animals of 350 species, and has a built area of 26,000 square metres and contains 4.5 million litres of saltwater. It was officially opened to the public in 2016 and is the first marine aquarium in the city of Rio de Janeiro. One of AquaRio’s main goals is to provide a space for fun and conservation, alongside educational activities – instilling in visitors a respect for marine animals and ecosystems. The aquarium conducts extensive research through the AquaRio Scientific Research Centre and partners with universities and research centres, like the Department of Marine Biology of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) to further research in captive breeding of endangered species and marine life.
The aquarium is also committed to sustainability and environmental protection, and in 2017, launched the largest solar powered project in the state of Rio de Janeiro. More than 2,000 photovoltaic solar panels have been installed on AquaRio’s roof, occupying a surface area of 6,000 square metres (equivalent to a football pitch) which produces about 77,000 kWh of clean electricity each month. The electricity generated from the solar panels is equivalent to the monthly consumption of 500 Brazilian households and has resulted in a decrease of 320 tonnes of CO2 per year.
AquaRio is also a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums of Brazil (AZAB) and the Latin American Zoo and Aquarium Association (ALPZA).
Khon Kaen Zoo, situated in Khon Kaen Province, Thailand, was established in 2009 by the Thailand Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to serve as an endangered species conservation centre and ecotourism attraction. The zoo spans 132-hectares and is divided into two sections: the zoo and an education area. With a main goal to reintroduce the animals in their care to their natural habitats, the zoo has a strong educational component and aims to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife and plant species. Khon Kaen Zoo aims to be a wildlife conservation and research centre that successfully revives the surrounding ecosystem of wildlife and forest. Khon Kaen Zoo is also a member of the Southeast Asian Zoos and Aquariums Association (SEAZA).
The Ubon Ratchathani Zoo is located in the Dong Fa Huan National Forest in Thailand, spans across 195-hectares and is home to native wildlife typically found in the abundant surrounding forest. The zoo focuses on conservation of local wildlife, natural resources and the environment, and cultivates public awareness around these topics. Ubon Ratchathani is involved in the breeding programmes of native species aimed at sustainable reintroductions. Ubon Ratchathani Zoo is also a member of SEAZA.
Chimelong Safari Park, situated in Guangzhou, China, was founded in 1997 and is dedicated to wildlife conservation, public education and scientific research. With a dedication to wildlife conservation, the park conducts scientific research on wildlife behaviour and ecology, nutrition and breeding, disease prevention and control, and has successfully bred giant panda triplets – the world’s first and only pair of surviving panda triplets. The 130-hectare park attracts more than four million visitors annually and is home to over 200 species of rare wildlife. Chimelong Safari Park established a Conservation Foundation to support a wide range of in situ and ex situ conservation programmes, both in China and internationally. Chimelong Safari Park has also forged strong links with many Chinese national conservation projects which have both in situ and ex situ elements to them, with Chimelong Safari Park having bred and reared many species for current and future reintroduction projects. Chimelong Safari Park is also an affiliate member of SEAZA.
The Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park Chhatbir, also known as the Chhatbir Zoo, is located in the Punjab region of northern India. The zoo was officially inaugurated in 1977 by the then governor of Punjab, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury and it was christened as Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park. Spread across an area of 202-hectares, it is one of the largest zoos in India. It is situated in the protected forest area of Chhatbir which was once the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Patiala. Today it is home to more than 1,300 wild animals and birds of around 105 different species. The Chhatbir zoo has primarily been established with the objectives of breeding rare species of wildlife, conservation education, and research on wildlife behaviour and disease management. The zoo has adopted eco-friendly policies to reduce single-use plastic on site and is scientifically regulating solid and liquid waste to ensure sustainable operations. Under the State’s Conservation policy Chhatbir zoo acted as a Nodal agency in the Gharial Reintroduction Programme, whereby the wildlife wing of the Department of Forests successfully released gharials in the Beas River System in 2018. Mahendra Chaudhury Zoological Park Chhatbir is also a member of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.