How people relate to wildlife and how much animal habitat is protected will determine how many animal species survive in the future, a recognized authority on animal training and care said Tuesday during a visit to Salt Lake City.
Joan Embery, goodwill ambassador for San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, author and TV personality, stopped at Hogle Zoo to kick off the Roundup for Species Survival program.She visited with zoo director Craig Dinsmore, other officials and a group of 15 Edison Elementary School children who were coloring a mural featuring the highly endangered rhinoceros and other animal species.
Despite cold, wet weather, a sizable crowd gathered under the entrance to the zoo's Primate Forest to visit with Embery, who has been a frequent guest on the "Tonight Show" and other TV programs.
She and her husband, Duane Pillsbury, who accompanied her to Utah, live on a 50-acre ranch in Lakeside, Calif. They have many domestic pets and an assortment of wild animals, some of which occasionally travel with Embery for appearances.
Manufacturers of Roundup, which officials say plays an important role in helping zoo horticulturists maintain healthy, weed-free habitats, created the Species Survival program three years ago to assist zoos. Hogle Zoo and its endangered species will directly benefit from all local Roundup sales with a donation of $1 per purchase this spring, according to materials circulated to the news media.
Embery, who has been at the San Diego zoo for 30 years but who originally planned to become a veterinarian, discussed a variety of species of rhinos and other animals and efforts to bolster their declining numbers.
She asked the Edison School students a number of questions aimed at testing their knowledge of the animals they had colored with crayons. Embery shared information about rhinos, one of the animals on the mural and the focus of this year's Roundup promotion.
Embery said there are only roughly 1,000 rhinos in captivity, with only about 12,500 in the entire population in the wild.
She also shared information about chinchillas and invited the Edison School children to come forward as one of the silver-gray animals was lifted from a small cage.
Chinchillas, which originated at high-altitude countries in South America, have the "densest, finest fur of any animal that we know of. . . ." In high demand for their fur, they were "hunted to the point of extinction. And the only reason that these animals exist now in more secure numbers in the wild is because we have learned how to breed chinchillas in captivity . . . so that animals aren't taken in the wild," Embery said.