PHOENIX - The Phoenix Zoo is helping an organization that's trying to save the vaquita porpoise, which it says is the world's most endangered marine mammal.
The zoo announced that it, along with the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, sent $50,000 to VaquitaCPR (Conservation, Protection and Recovery). Zoo guests contributed more than $12,000 to the cause and ACNC Board members added $15,000, according to a release from the zoo.
The release said that scientists believe there are only 30 vaquita porpoises left in the world, half the total there were a year ago. The near-extinction is related to the animals getting tangled in nets used in illegal fishing for the drum fish, which is also critically endangered, according to the release. The fishers want the drum fish for its swim bladder, which is valuable in China.
More than 100 organizations in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums came together to pledge over $1 million to help the animal. Mexico's government has agreed to donate $3 million to the cause.
“Zoos and aquariums have a proud history of working to save species from extinction, including black-footed ferrets, the California condor, the Florida manatee and the blue iguana,” said Dan Ashe, AZA president and CEO, in the release.
“This $1 million commitment by our members is the largest contribution other than the Mexican government. It's a bold and heroic statement that we will do everything we can to prevent the extinction of the vaquita. The next step is to join the Mexican government and the VaquitaCPR consortium to support the implementation of the rescue plan.”
The rescue plan aims to capture and relocate the vaquitas to a temporary sanctuary while the organizations work to end the illegal fishing and the use of gill nets from their natural environment.
Ashe said the mission could be risky and vaquitas have never been in human care, even temporarily, but it's clear the vaquita will go extinct if they don't take these measures.