What the Niabi Zoo is doing to help endangered species in their care and how you can help

COAL VALLEY, Illinois-- On Saturday, May 18 the Niabi Zoo is opening their doors for an Endangered Species day.

For Tammy Schmidt the zoo life is more than just sitting and staring at animals, it's a gentle reminder of the harm happening to wild animals around the world.

The Niabi Zoo hosts multiple animals on the endangered species list, some are considered critically endangered, like Geelin the Amur Leopard.

"Geelin was brought to us for breeding actually so the plan is now that we will be having a female come in hopefully later this fall and we'll be part of a species survivor program," said Jessica Lench-Porter, the carnivore keeper.

Jessica and other zookeepers are doing what they can but some things are out of their control.

"We`re usually the number one predator for most species that have gone endangered but also habitat loss is a big one," said Lench-Porter.

Keeping these animals in sight creates a way to teach visitors the threats to certain species and how visitors can do their part.

For the buff-cheeked gibbon that means palm oil and companies being irresponsible.

"Talking about sustainable ways that we source oil palm and different ways we can start reading our labels at the grocery store and believe it or not oil palm, palm goes by about 30 or 40 other names," said Schmidt.

The zoo is already making the changes they need in order to do their part, trash and clean up is now done using barrels instead of plastic bags.

"It's a long discussion it's going to take awhile and it`s going to take all of us to think about what we're putting on our hair when we wash it and what we are putting in our month when we eat," said Schmidt.

More work will need to be done but it can be rewarding.

"We had red wolf pups here four to five years ago and that was probably the biggest accomplishment of my entire career," said Lench-Porter.

Saving the species they are hosting is important but so is making sure no one else is added to the list.

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