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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.

Two red-fronted macaws
Picture: Zoo Dresden

EAZA Campaigns

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.

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.