The Ex Situ Conservation Award recognizes excellence in captive care, welfare and propagation of animal species in captivity, as a hedge against extinction. The Zoological Association of America is proud to present the 2020 Ex Situ Conservation Award to the San Antonio Zoo for their work with five species of endangered, critically endangered, and extinct in the wild Mexican freshwater fish. The five species are the Minckley’s Cichlid (Endangered), Tequila Splitfin (Endangered), San Marcos Redtail Splitfin (Critically Endangered), La Palma Pupfish (Extinct in the Wild), and Charco Palma Pupfish (Extinct in the wild).
Director of Ectotherms San Antonio Zoo, Craig Pelke, said the award was received for the aquarium department’s work and success with the reproduction of fish species all of which range from a designation of endangered to extinct in the wild.
“The goal of the program was to reproduce the species to maintain assurance populations,” said Pelke. “Two species are currently extinct in the wild, but there are potential plans to reestablish their numbers. The other three species have extremely limited ranges in single water bodies that are in peril.”
President & CEO San Antonio Zoo, Tim Morrow praised the team’s diligence and dedication to the program through one of the most tumultuous years in recent history. While the coronavirus pandemic challenged zoo operations, the aquarium team stood fast and held to the zoo’s core mission, to secure a future for wildlife in Texas and abroad.
“I am honored to have them representing our entire zoo crew,” said Morrow. “We live by the tenets to love, engage with, act for, and protect all forms of wildlife, and what our aquarium department accomplished this year is nothing less than spectacular. Through unprecedented hardship, they carried the torch of conservation high for all to see, lighting the way for others to follow.”
Pelke echoed those sentiments and stated how proud he is of the team’s accomplishments. The zoo’s aquarium crew worked diligently to contribute to these conservation programs. While their success was apparent in the reproduction of the fish in this program, Pelke feels the award validates their hard work.
“I am very proud of my staff and their accomplishments,” said Pelke. “I pass along my vision and direction for the department, and they carry out the mission and see it through. They are a very focused and solution-minded team, and success is obvious in their results.”
Award presentation: https://youtu.be/NbyY-h6BSq4