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Endangered species ‘vanish' at Brevard Zoo

Zoo has several animals removed from its exhibits

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MELBOURNE, Fla. – Friday marked the 10th anniversary of Endangered Species Day, and the Brevard Zoo took a different approach to show the public the importance of the issue is, by removing some of the animals from its exhibits.

"The idea that there might one day be no more cheetahs left in the wild, that would be an awful situation to find ourselves in," said Andrea Hill, marketing director at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne. "Thankfully, that is not the case, and in fact we are in a position to do something about extinction. Today, we are asking our visitors to pause and consider what extinction looks and feels like in a collaborative effort to motivate and inspire them to join Brevard Zoo and other accredited zoos and aquariums in our effort to save animals from extinction."

The animals vanishing from Brevard Zoo are part of a larger national effort organized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which Brevard Zoo is a member. A total of 229 accredited members of the association are coming together in a variety of ways to help the public consider what it would be like not to be able to see the animals again.

For decades, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been working to restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor and a variety of aquatic species. The organizations have started a campaign called SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction.

In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for the next 10 years. The association has identified more than 100 species facing the greatest threats. "Today we're demonstrating just how profound the loss would be if we don't take action now to protect wildlife. More importantly, we are also explaining to the public just what AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are doing to save animals from extinction", said Jim Maddy, the association's president and CEO.

ClickOrlando.com spoke with Hill on Friday. She said that the event was well received by people visiting the zoo with no complaints lodged. Hill said the zoo did not remove all the animals at the same time, but rotated the exhibits so only one at a time was affected. If the animals were too large to remove from the exhibit, the zoo covered the windows of the exhibit with a black curtain.

Friday's was held at all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across the country.