Conservation at the Park
Virginia Safari Park is dedicated to wildlife conservation through public education, captive breeding programs, habitat preservation, and providing financial aid and assistance to projects in the wild. Virginia Safari Park is one of three zoological facilities operated by the Zoofari Parks Corporation, working in conjunction with the Gulf Breeze Zoo and the Alabama Safari Park to provide aid to over 25 countries around the world. Trying to solve the world’s continually changing wildlife concerns, Virginia Safari Park collaborates with other zoos and field experts to support Rhinoceros and Elephant anti-poaching units, install artificial nest sites for wild Penguins, and translocate Giraffe across the Nile to boost sustainable genetics. Conservation is important not just for the species in foreign countries but also for many of our local animal friends. Our goal is to assist in the conservation of local and national species by giving them as much attention as we do to the larger, more well-known species. Virginia Safari Park is privately owned and receives no state or federal tax support. Funding for conservation programs are made possible through the continued support of zoo guests. Conservation is fundamental in our daily operations and visitors are encouraged to join us in making a difference on this journey.
2018 Conservation Grant Recipients
The Zoofari Parks Conservation grants support both wildlife and habitat programs in the U.S. and abroad. Projects are focused on research, education, and local involvement.
Virginia Safari Park partnered with the Zoological Association of America for some of our 2018 Conservation Grants. We are pleased to announce this year’s grants were awarded to the International Rhino Foundation, International Elephant Foundation, and the Grevy’s Zebra Trust.
International Rhino Foundation, operates in all areas of the world where rhinos live in the wild.
- South African programs implement heightened protection, enhanced intelligence, strategic translocations, dehorning, and digital radio systems that lowered rhino poaching.
- Zimbabwe’s Rhino Conservation Awareness Program works with 145 schools in buffer zones, providing school supplies in exchange for successful local rhino conservation results.
- Javan Rhino Protection Teams maintained zero rhino losses due to poaching for 20+ years.
- Camera traps showed two new Javan Rhino calves born in 2017 at the Ujung Kulon National Park.
- The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary expansion completed new roads, gates, fences, quarantine facility, and an upgraded laboratory for the new Rhino Research and Breeding Center.
International Elephant Foundation supports elephant management, protection and scientific research.
- Sumatran Elephant Conservation Response Units (CRUs).
- Mounted Horse Anti-Poaching Patrols, Mount Kenya.
- Big Tusker Project provides aerial surveillance for law enforcement and rangers in Tsavo, Kenya.
- Building local support for conservation, Tanzania.
- Fostering Human-Elephant Coexistence, India.
- Anti-Poaching Units in the corridor between Nepal and India.
- EEHV Genomics Research to understand this deadly virus in hopes that one day a vaccine may be produced.
Grevy's Zebra Trust conserves the endangered Grevy’s Zebra and their fragile habitat.
- Grevy’s Zebra Scouts trains locals to monitor herds and gather information.
- Holistic Rangeland Management helps manage grazing cattle and land management.
- Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors hires local tribesman to assist with data collection and security.
- Education and Outreach Scouts go into communities and perform conservation storytelling.
Ongoing Conservation Programs
Giraffe Conservation Foundation
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only organization in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of Giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. The GCF focuses on increasing Giraffe numbers through anti-poaching units, educational awareness, translocating animals for improved genetics, research, and equipment. There has been a 40% decline in wild Giraffe populations since 1999 due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, human population growth, and illegal hunting (poaching.) Virginia Safari Park is committed to protecting Giraffe and participate in captive breeding programs. Park guests assist us in this mission each time they participate in our Giraffe romaine feeding expereince or by attending the annual World Giraffe Day celebration.
LEARN MORE: As seen in the National Zoological Association of America Journal, "No Tall Tale: The Plight of Giraffe" by Katy Massey, Conservation Coordinator.
International Rhino Foundation
The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) began in 1989 as the International Black Rhino Foundation in response to organized poaching decimating Black Rhino populations. In 1993, the organization recognized the escalating crisis facing all five Rhino species, expanded their mission, and changed their name. The IRF works in habitats across Africa, Indonesia, and India solving issues with poaching, forest loss, agricultural development, and human settlement conflicts. Dedicated to the survival of the world’s Rhino species through conservation and research, IRF provides technical (scientific, educational, administrative) and financial resources necessary to facilitate the conservation of rhinos. Virginia Safari Park is honored to have 4 successful calves born since 2016, while participating with the Zoological Association of America’s Southern White Rhino Animal Management Program. Our Rhino ambassadors also raise awareness and financial support for their wild counterparts through our encounter programs.
Penguin Conservation; Dyer Island Conservation Trust
Founded in 2006, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) is located on the southern tip of South Africa, to address the growing issues facing local wildlife. The Dyer Island ecosystem is home to thousands of seabirds including the iconic African Penguin, Cape Fur Seals, Great White Sharks and Southern Right Whales. Many of these species have been labeled as Endangered, (likely it will become extinct.) Populations are threatened by pollution, decline in fish abundance, coastal development, and oil spills. Virginia Safari Park has had 3 healthy chicks hatch between 2017-2018 alone. We also work with the Zoological Association of America’s African Penguin Animal Management Program and provides financial assistance to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust to help save wild Penguin populations.
LEARN MORE: As seen in the National Zoological Association of America Journal, "African Penguins: The Cold Truth" by Katy Massey, Corporate Conservation Coordinator.
Source Population Alliance
In 2010, it was determined that a new alliance was needed to create sustainable hoof stock populations in-order to prevent extinction. In the following years Source Population Alliance (SPA) was formed, creating an working relationship between wildlife parks and private landowners. SPA originally launched with four program species and now has successfully grown to 12 species, such as the Arabian Oryx, Dama Gazelle, Mountain Bongo, Roan, Addax, Scimitar-Horned Oryx, Sable, Anoa, Banteng, Grevy's Zebra, Nubian Ibex and the Trans Caspian Urial. All of the Zoofari Park's facilities work with the SPA program to ensure healthy captive populations of exotic ungulates and assist efforts to save their wild counterparts.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) was founded in Namibia in 1990 and has become a world class research facility providing groundbreaking research in the biology, ecology, and genetics of the Cheetah. With a 90% loss of Cheetah populations in the last 100 years, organizations like CCF are imperative for Cheetah survival. The majority of Cheetahs are found outside protected areas in areas populated by humans. Saving Cheetahs requires innovative conservation methods that address the welfare of both Cheetah and human populations. CCF is a global leader in Cheetah conservation and has been able to effectively stabilize and even increase the wild Cheetah population in Namibia.
Sumatran Orangutan Society
The Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) works to protect Orangutans, their forests, and their future. Sumatran Orangutans are critically endangered and without urgent action could be the first Great Ape species to become extinct. SOS is dedicated to improving this situation by saving forests, supporting people and protecting Orangutans. Programs include: rescuing displaced animals, assisting with the rehabilitation process, protecting habitats, restoring forests, providing local education opportunities, teaching agroforestry as well as organic farming. SOS has rescued 132 orangutans, planted 1,775,153 trees, and reached 18,000 local people through education programs. The Zoofari Park’s conservation efforts work to save wild populations and develop captive breeding programs. In 2019, we assisted SOS in purchasing 180+ acres of palm oil plantation in an Orangutan buffer zone outside the Leuser National Park. Buffer zones like these are important in avoiding human conflict. With less than 300 Orangutans in North America the Gulf Breeze Zoo location is honored to care for such an incredible species.
Electronic waste has a tremendous impact on the planet, more so than any other consumer product. It takes a lot of energy, resources and rare materials to make gadgets. Many gadgets contain conflict minerals (natural resources extracted in a conflict zone.) The four main African conflict resources, that are essential to creating cell phones are: Gold, Tantalum (Coltan), Tungsten and Tin.
Many of these minerals are mined inside the Congo, home to the several species found at the Virginia Safari Park, including the DeBrazza's Monkey and the Bongo. This recycling program allows guests to directly impact troubled wildlife and provides a positive way for individuals to create actual results. The Park is a registered drop-off site for the ECO-CELL gadget recycling program, accepting items such as: cell phones, ipods, ipads, tablets, adapters, chargers, MP3 players, handheld gaming systems and their accessories.
The Virginia Safari Park partners with ECO-CELL to help:
- Extend technology lifespan
- Reclaim gadget precious metals to create jobs
- Reduce environmental stress
- Deter landfill toxic waste