The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Birds of Prey Campaign at the Texas Zoo; Inspiring Raptor Conservation

Grant Information
Categories Education , Environment
Location South Texas
Cycle Year 2020
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) South Texas Zoological Society, DBA The Texas Zoo
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Elizabeth Jensen
Phone 3615737681
Additional Information
Used for $9403 in funding is requested to build new exhibits with informative graphics for our Birds of Prey Conservation Campaign. These exhibits will house rescued and rehabilitated raptors in need of permanent care. A variety of diverse education programming will be developed complementing the new exhibits in an engaging way while inspiring people to take action to preserve raptors.
Benefits These exhibits will increase awareness of raptor conservation, provide long term care for surplus birds in need, and create a new exhibition at the Texas Zoo. This will in turn increase attendance as well as much needed funding to support the care of the birds as well as the zoo and its important mission of conservation, education and research while connecting people to wildlife.
Proposal Description The Texas Zoo in Victoria, Texas, focuses on wildlife of Texas. Additionally, approximately 85% of the zoo’s collection is comprised of rescued Texas wildlife. Every year, the Texas Zoo takes in many animals, most of which are native birds of prey. The zoo is committed to providing long term, specialized care for these raptors in need. Currently the zoo holds several species of native raptors all of which were rescued, rehabilitated and deemed non-releasable. But the need to provide more housing is great and the zoo is seeking funding to build more exhibit space to hold more birds in need.
The zoo partners with local wildlife rehabilitation facilities in south Texas. These facilities take in many injured birds of prey and successfully release them back to the wild, helping to support local populations. However, after successfully rehabilitating non-releasable birds, rehabilitators are often not able to find permanent housing for them. Sadly, this results in having to euthanize these birds due to lack of space and/or due to constraints of their rehabilitators permit with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Texas Zoo is currently planning to build more exhibit space to provide long-term housing, for rescued birds. This effort is also a campaign to increase public awareness of the pressures raptors face in the wild. Most injuries to raptors are caused by humans, or manmade structures (Redig & Duke, 1995). Collisions, trapping, shooting, poisoning, and habitat destruction are all culprits contributing to the decline of raptor populations, (Lawrence, 1997) Unfortunately, these pressures are on the rise due to increasing human pop and habitat encroachment (Lawrence, 1997). Admittance to wildlife rehabilitation centers are also increasing, making permanent housing and care even more in demand (Lawrence, 1997).
Informative graphics will be incorporated around the new exhibit areas focusing on the issues birds of prey face in the wild. The ecological importance of birds of prey and why we need to protect them will also be emphasized. The graphics will further illustrate the important work wildlife rehabilitators are doing to support raptor conservation. Additionally, these new exhibits will be designed to inspire and engage guests to take action to help these beautiful birds. This campaign will also draw more people to the zoo. Admission is the zoo’s largest funding source and the revenue generated from this campaign will help fund the care of these birds, but will also support the important conservation, research and educational efforts of the zoo.
Non-releasable birds of prey make great animal ambassadors. Facilities that house rescued birds can serve as a platform pointing out specific dangers to birds of prey to visitors (Hansen-Clay 2010). Increasing public awareness through educational programs can mitigate negative manmade impacts on birds of prey. This in turn can help enhance the overall welfare of raptor populations (Lawrence, 1997). Educational programming and community outreach will also be a key element to the success of this campaign. (Hansen-Clay, 2010). This kind of environmental education, as per a study conducted by Schwarz (2013), has demonstrated that live raptor programs, such as the zoo is developing, are “producing cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes in their audiences’ (Schwartz, 2013). This implication is huge for the future of raptor conservation and wildlife preservation.
As the pandemic rages on at the time of this writing, birds of prey still need care and the important work the zoo does must go on. Due to COVID-19, the zoo took a financial hit and needs funding even more than before. The requested funds of $9 403 will provide much needed care and housing for rescued raptors. It will also allow the zoo to continue to fulfill its commitment to care for rescued Texas wildlife while supporting its mission of conservation, education and research.
Works Cited:
Hansen-Clay, E. J. (2010). Grant Proposal to Study the Benefits of Educational Programs Held by. Annals of New York Academy of Sciences, 1134, 25-60.
Lawrence, J. (1997). A Study of the Benefits of Raptor Rehabilitation to the Public.
Redig, P. T., & Duke, G. E. (1995). The effect and value of raptor rehabilitation in North America. In North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference (USA).
Schwartz, J. (2013). Raptors in education: How educators use live raptors for environmental education (Doctoral dissertation).