Amazon fires causing concern among animal conservationists, including those at Philly Zoo

John McDevitt
September 11, 2019 - 9:05 pm

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Zoo extends much further than the 42 acres in West Philadelphia, doing conservation work all over the world. This includes work in the Amazon Jungle, but the fires burning there are posing a threat to wildlife and conservation efforts. 

There has been conservation work done by the zoo all over the world and in many cases, leading the way and saving an entire species from extinction, like the golden lion Tamarin native to the Amazon.  

"It's a little tiny primate from the southern part of Brazil in the Atlantic Forest. There were less than 200 of them back in the 1980s. And now there’s 2,400," explained Kristen Waldron, director of strategic initiatives. "Now, that number may not sound large, but it essentially has saved that species from extinction." 

Dr. Carlos Martinez specializes in amphibians at the zoo, and he and his team are credited for increasing the numbers of critically endangered frogs and toads in the Amazon. 

His research is not in the direct path of the flames, but the smoke is a major concern. 

"A lot of animal species are dying and being affected by it, and of course, if you're burning something, you are releasing all of that smoke into the atmosphere and the smoke is mainly carbon dioxide," he said.  


The zoo has done extensive work with species that are found in the thick of the fire like jaguars and pumas.  

Conservationists say the fires in the Amazon are being set to make way for industry and we all can help save the environment by being mindful of the products we purchase.

Starting this weekend, you can round up your ticket admission at the zoo, with all the money going to the zoo’s conservation work throughout the world.