Since 2000 the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) has been running conservation campaigns raise awareness for endangered species and support projects financially. The campaigns run for two years each under a changing focus.
The participating zoos give these topics a stage with exhibitions or events and join forces fundraising for the selected conservation projects.
The "Zoo Animal of the Year" is a campaign launched by the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations, the German Zoo Society, the Gemeinschaft deutscher Zooförderer e. V., and the Association of Zoological Gardens.
The focus is on highly endangered species in conjunction with conservation projects in their home areas.
Zoo animal of the year 2023: Macaw
Macaws are large, colorful parrots that are native to the rainforests of Central and South America. Many species of these charismatic birds are critically endangered. Macaws are hunted for the illegal wildlife trade. Their habitat is also shrinking due to the expansion of populated and agricultural areas. Breeding and feeding trees, important for survival, are falling victim to grazing areas for cattle farming and thus also to our meat consumption.
Wilhelma is a platinum sponsor of the "Zoo Animal of the Year" campaign. The funds are invested in the protection of macaw habitat in Bolivia and Ecuador. The partner organizations Armonia and Fundación Jocotoco are implementing various conservation measures for Red-fronted Macaws as well as Great and Military Macaws. Wilhelma also supports Jocotoco beyond this. In 2020 and 2021, the purchase of additional rainforest areas financed the expansion of the organization's Narupa Reserve. On this area, numerous species - including the Military Macaw - find a protected habitat.
Which Fish? (2019-2021)
The oceans cover about 70% of the surface of our planet and provide resources for millions of people. Overfishing, destructive fishing practices and marine pollution are the greatest threats to the oceans' ability to remain functioning ecosystems and provide essential resources. Fish and aquatic invertebrates are essential for coastal populations as a source of food and income. Fish stocks must be conserved and properly managed to avoid massive losses.
The campaign addressed how zoos and aquariums contribute to the overfishing and keeping of marine life. Participating organizations have committed to reviewing the purchase of fish for display, the purchase of food for fish-eating zoo animals (such as sea lions) and also the respective catering offer for best sustainability.
- Silent Forest - Asian Songbird Crisis (2017-2019)
Asia's songbirds are threatened by excessive capture for the worldwide pet trade, traditional song competitions, use in traditional medicine or simply by being hunted for food.
The funds raised during the two-year campaign are used for etsablishing breeding stations, field research on endangered species and community education.
Wilhelma received for its financial contribution of 5000 € to the Sumatran Songbird Sanctuary the EAZA Gold Award.
- Pole to pole (2013-2015)
The "Pole to Pole" campaign focused on habitats at the North and South Poles, which are endangered above all by ongoing global warming and the associated melting of the polar ice caps. As the ice recedes, the habitat of numerous animal species is also disappearing. Two unique and charismatic species have been chosen by EAZA as ambassadors: the polar bear, representing the North Pole, and the king penguin, representing the South Pole.
With the retreat of the ice, the habitat of numerous animal species is also disappearing. Wilhelma offered free public tours and lectures on "Wildlife in Climate Change" as part of the campaign.
- Ape campaign (2010-2011)
Our closest relatives are severely threatened by the destruction of their habitats. 300 European zoos have joined forces in the campaign to raise as much money as possible for long-term support of great ape conservation projects. By the end of 2011, more than €420,000 had been collected!
Wilhelma alone contributed €15,000 of this amount and received the Gold Award for its efforts.