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Snow leopard

A snow leopard relaxes in the mountains of Mongolia.

Time for Change!

It’s officially fall and we’re thrilled about all things pumpkin, (slightly) cooler temperatures and our new Quarters for Conservation projects! For the next three months, your vote will support a conservation project of your choice focused on jaguars in Mexico, snow leopards in Mongolia or giraffe in Africa!

The Projects

Jaguars are renowned for their power, strength, beauty and grace. They once roamed much of the southwestern United States, but are rapidly vanishing from the continent, especially throughout the US-Mexico borderlands. In Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, 55,000 acres of land has been established as the Northern Jaguar Reserve. The primary goal of the Reserve is to improve conservation knowledge and activities within the local community, including relationships with ranchers using economic incentives that reward the presence of living wildlife. The Northern Jaguar Project is working to protect jaguars from very real threats, including poaching, lack of law enforcement when jaguars are killed, the indiscriminate effects of poison use, ongoing effects of drought on wildlife and livestock, shifting weather patterns and invasive species. Contributions made through Quarters for Conservation will go towards setting up a lending library of cameras and field guides for an educational program for those wanting to learn more about jaguars and their importance.

Found in the rugged mountains of central Asia, the snow leopard is known for its beautiful fur and elusive behavior. They are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, but human activities have threatened the future of this species. These threats include, but are not limited to, increasing numbers of livestock, habitat loss and mining activities. With as few as 3,290 snow leopards left in their native range, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed these cats as endangered. About 1,000 of these wild cats live in Mongolia, where Snow Leopard Trust has created Snow Leopard Enterprises (SLE), which aims to provide rural families with reliable income in exchange for conservation commitments. This includes utilizing traditional felting skills and training local community members to make handicrafts using wool from their livestock to make marketable products. SLE also sets up conservation agreements where community members pledge to refrain from retaliatory killings of snow leopards and are rewarded monetarily for upholding the agreement. Snow Leopard Trust will use funding from Quarters for Conservation to uphold their end of the contracts.

Giraffe are a wildly popular species, both globally and locally. They are considered one of Africa’s most ecologically and economically important megafauna. Giraffe numbers have declined about 35% in the last three decades—there are only an estimated 100,000 individuals left in the wild. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) has recognized the lack of educational and financial support for giraffe conservation; when compared to many other African mammals, such as elephants and rhinos, giraffe have been understudied and the conservation activity around them is relatively limited. GCF seeks to reconnect local students with the environment and assist them in understanding the importance of conservation, especially for giraffe in their natural habitat. Support from Quarters for Conservation will be used to fund environmental education field trips for students, camera traps for population monitoring and vehicle support, all to help further conservation efforts to help protect this awe-inspiring species.

Cast Your Vote!

Your admission to the Zoo already helps these projects—25 cents from each admission (and five dollars from each membership purchased) goes towards Quarters for Conservation. On every visit to the zoo, you’ll receive a “quarter” token to use to cast your vote for whichever conservation project most inspires you. If you’re extra passionate about any of the projects, feel free to drop in “real” quarters or dollar bills! Together, our small corner of the world can help make a large impact on conservation everywhere.