The Canadian Species Initiative (CSI), a partnership between Wildlife Preservation Canada and African Lion Safari, strives to establish a coordinated and holistic effort to meet the ex situ management needs for species conservation in Canada, while promoting the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) One Plan Approach.

The IUCN Crossroads blog recently featured a post highlighting the growing recognition of the value of ex situ conservation and how zoos and aquariums are contributing to species recovery. The blog really embodied what CSI is about and our vision for a collaborative approach to conservation. The blog points to two major recommendations for reversing current extinctions rates that have been identified by the IUCN and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Conservation approaches must be: i) national in scale and ii) representative. Fostering national networks is critical to tackling complicated, global conservation goals. Engaging with communities and grassroots movements as well as government agencies, NGOs, academia, zoos, and aquariums will ensure everyone feels included and access untapped potential in future generations and throughout the conservation network.  

Zoos and aquariums are clearly an integral part of successful conservation work – they bridge the gap between science and the public by engaging over 700 million people around the world each year through conservation education to inspire and support conservation actions, invest millions of dollars in conservation field programs, and participate in ex situ conservation activities such as conservation breeding of threatened species – but there is still a need for better connections within the conservation network. To ensure the survival of species, there is a need to break down the dichotomy and build trust and cooperation between field conservation and the zoo and aquarium community.

As the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) Conservation Planning Specialist Group’s Regional Resource Center in Canada, CSI is working to bring globally recognized and proven tools and workshop processes to species conservation planning in Canada. These facilitated workshops ensure that a broad range of stakeholders and expertise is represented, and that the development of management strategies includes consideration of all possible conservation actions – including ex situ roles. This ensures an integrated approach to planning, that bridges the gap between wild and captive population management at the outset. 

CSI is working together with partners such as Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) to develop a coordinated and collaborative national approach to identifying and applying appropriate ex situ tools for the conservation of our native species.

Read the original IUCN Crossroads blog here: Progressive zoos and aquariums must be part of the world’s response to COVID-19 – Blogs | IUCN

…[zoos] can provide the opportunity for an enormous amount of valuable work in research, conservation, and education.

Gerald Durrell

Founder of WPC

Stephanie Winton

Canada’s New Noah and Species Conservation Planning Assistant – Canadian Species Initiative

Stephanie is WPC’s 31st Canada’s New Noah and is currently assisting the Canadian Species Initiative to build capacity for species conservation recovery planning in Canada. Stephanie holds a master’s degree in conservation biology from Thompson Rivers University where she studied the impacts of road mortality on a threatened rattlesnake species. She has extensive experience working in conservation and research for species-at-risk reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds in Western Canada.