AL AIN, 15th October, 2018 (WAM) — Being held for the first time in the Middle East, Al Ain Zoo today hosted the International Zoo Educators Association, IZE, conference with participation of 120 countries from around the world.
Held under the theme, ‘Culture and Conservation – bringing a deeper human dimension to zoo education’, the conference aims to motivate community and zoo visitors to care about the environment and encourage sustainable behavior to preserve endangered species.
The conference, which will run until 18th October, was inaugurated by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Copsey, Director of Training at the International Union for Conservation of Nature; and Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajeri, Director-General of The Zoo and Aquarium Public Institution in Al Ain (Al Ain Zoo).
In his opening remarks, Dr. Al Zeyoudi said, “Steadfast commitment of our wise leadership to preserving the environment and its precious resources stems from the values instilled in our people by the UAE’s Founding Father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.Among the most prominent examples of Sheikh Zayed’s environmental leadership are his pioneering efforts in greening the desert, combating desertification, and conserving wildlife.
He introduced multiple environmental agencies – local and federal. Some were tasked with carrying out research and studies pertaining to wildlife and marine life in the UAE, others were engaged in incorporating environmental education into school curricula. Our founding father also showed great interest in raising environmental awareness through various media channels.”
Endangered and vulnerable flora, such as ghaf trees and mangroves, enjoy the same protection as animal species, he noted. “Vast terrestrial and marine areas of the country were granted the status of natural reserves to conserve their rich biodiversity. The number of these reserves surged from 19 in 2010 to 43 in 2017 to align with international standards. Moreover, the number of Wetlands of International Importance, also known as Ramsar Sites, in the UAE increased from only two in 2010 to seven in 2017. “
In turn, Al Hajeri said Al Ain Zoo has been involved with education since our establishment in 1968 by the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. “In 2016, we opened the Sheikh Zayed Desert learning Centre. An iconic building, dedicated to our late, great founder Sheikh Zayed. His passion, vision and legacy of the natural world and how it is our duty to inform and teach each new generation, is represented there,” he added.