Endangered Species “Vanished” at Dickerson Park Zoo
“Vanishing” animals are part of a national effort to highlight the growing extinction crisis.

Springfield, Mo. (May 16, 2015) – Dickerson Park Zoo recognized the 10th anniversary of Endangered Species Day by highlighting the growing importance of working to save endangered species from extinction.

Today, the zoo’s cheetahs and Asian elephants “vanished” from their yards behind short curtains. “The curtains represented a possible future if cheetahs and Asian elephants were extinct,” explains zoo spokesperson Melinda Arnold. “Today’s adults can see them, but our children may not see them in the future if we don’t act now to protect these and other endangered species.”

This activity is part of a larger, national effort organized by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, of which Dickerson Park Zoo is an accredited member. Specifically, the 229-accredited members of the AZA are coming together in a variety of ways to help the public consider what it would be like to not be able to see, learn from, or connect with these incredible animals again. This is to raise awareness of the efforts to save animals from extinction and to help launch AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE).

For decades, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have been leaders in species survival and are already working to restore more than 30 species to healthy wild populations, including the American bison, the California condor and a variety of aquatic species.

Through SAFE, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will convene scientists and stakeholders globally to identify the factors threatening species, develop Conservation Action Plans, collect new resources, and engage the public.

In 2015, SAFE will focus on 10 species and then add an additional 10 species each year for the next 10 years. The inaugural 10 species include African penguins, Asian elephants, Black rhinoceros, cheetahs, gorillas, sea turtles, vaquitas, sharks and rays, Western pond turtles and Whooping cranes.

“AZA aquarium and zoo conservationists have identified more than 100 species facing the greatest threats and where accredited zoos and aquariums have unique conservation and science knowledge to contribute,” said Jim Maddy, AZA President and CEO.  “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.”

Public Asked to Help Save Animals from Extinction
One of the easiest conservation actions the public can take is to visit Dickerson Park Zoo. Doing so directly supports the collaborative efforts of hundreds of researchers, field conservationists and scientists from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums working to save animals from extinction.

Follow the online conversation for AZA SAFE with the hashtag #savingspecies.

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Melinda Arnold, Public Relations/Marketing Director
Office: 417-833-1570417-833-1570  x104

Dickerson Park Zoo is a division of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.

AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo & aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit AZAsavingspecies.org.


Dickerson Park Zoo, Missouri State University
Unveil “Bear Country”
Half-price admission available Sept. 27 for anyone wearing Missouri State clothing

Missouri State University contact:
Brent Dunn, Vice President for University Advancement

Dickerson Park Zoo contact:
Melinda Arnold, FOZ Public Relations/Marketing Director

SPRINGFIELD, MO. – Missouri State University “Bear Country,” the new name for Dickerson Park Zoo’s black bear yard, will be unveiled at a Missouri State Family Day at Dickerson Park Zoo on Sept. 27.

During an 11:30 a.m. ceremony, university President Clifton M. Smart III and Student Government Association President Jordan McGee, among others, will be present to dedicate “Bear Country.” The ceremony marks the official launch of a five-year partnership between Dickerson Park Zoo/Friends of the Zoo and the Missouri State University Foundation, Alumni Association and Student Government Association to support bear conservation.

The bear exhibit was originally built through the generosity of James and Marietta Mellers, early benefactors of the zoo. It opened in 1989.

In celebration of “Bear Country,” Dickerson Park Zoo will offer half-priced admission all day to Missouri State University students, faculty and staff, alumni and community supporters wearing any Missouri State clothing.

Dickerson Park Zoo is in the process of identifying a field conservation project for bears among its conservation partners to which it will direct funds contributed to the zoo by the university organizations.

“Bear Country” is the gateway for Dickerson Park Zoo’s Missouri Habitats region and home to two male black bears, both of whom were wild orphans. Six-year-old “Gus” was found on a farm in Howell County. Five-year-old “Yona” came to Dickerson Park Zoo from the Tulsa Zoo. (Yona is pronounced O-nah and is the Cherokee word for bear.)


About Missouri State University
Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive metropolitan system with a statewide mission in public affairs, whose purpose is to develop educated persons. The university’s identity is distinguished by its public affairs mission, which entails a campus-wide commitment to foster expertise and responsibility in ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement.

About Dickerson Park Zoo
Dickerson Park Zoo, home to more than 600 animals representing 160 species, is a division of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Conservation is a core goal of the zoo’s mission to connection children and adults with wildlife.