The mission of Parco Natura Viva comprehends:
CONSERVATION (in & ex situ) - contributing to the conservation of wildlife and its natural environment; defining strategies to ensure the survival of endangered species; protecting and managing species threatened by risk extinction under controlled conditions
RESEARCH - optimizing animal management by focusing on issues such as population biology, animal welfare, behaviour ecology, development of cognitive skills and veterinary medicine
EDUCATION - increasing awareness of the importance of the various forms of life on our planet; raising collective consciousness about the need to safeguard the natural world; educating the younger generation to respect the environment
Among the most important associations which the Park is part of are: Italian Association of Zoo and Acquaria, European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, World Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The link and cooperation with the international network EAZA is very strong. For the management of specimens of endangered species we refer to the EEP (European Endangered species Program) and ESB (European Studbook) breeding programs.
The Research Department promotes and monitors research projects ex situ (away from the place of origin) and in situ (in aid of species in their natural environment; this also benefits ecosystems and biodiversity); both of which have the goal of sharing information useful for the conservation of natural and/or zoological elements.
The ex situ projects are intended to develop data useful for the management of captive populations, which is then developed through thesis and doctoral degrees. The in situ projects are aimed at the re-entry of individual animals, often in collaboration with international partners. Throughout this year, the Research Department has contributed to the definition and implementation of the in situ conservation programs listed on the opposite page.
Parco Natura Viva is a member of EAZA (European Association of Zoo and Aquaria). EAZA’s activities include the European Endangered species Program (EEP), supported by the European Community and aiming at coordinating the management of animal populations belonging to endangered species by European zoological parks.
The EEP represents a concrete survival opportunity for animals that can no longer find sufficient survival conditions in the wild. Parco Natura Viva participates in about twenty EEP projects. In 2002 the Park became a member of WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquaria), while on a national level it is part of UIZA (Italian Union of Zoos and Aquaria).
Parco Natura Viva plays an essential role in Italy by cooperating with the CITES department of the National Forest Rangers and with the National Institute for Wild Animals (INFS). Following the implementation of the strict CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) regulations, competent authorities may seize illegally traded animals or those kept in violation of health regulations and entrust them to qualified facilities like Parco Natura Viva.
CONSERVATION EX SITU
Recognized internationally by the Convention of Biodiversity, ex situ conservation is one of the foundations of the life of the Park which is involved daily in the breeding of animals away from their place of origin. The Park follows numerous European breeding programs in a controlled environment, such as EEP and ESB, which provide for the management of the specimens housed in the facility as belonging to a single population. To support these programs there is a data base stored according to an international computer system, the lnternational Species Information System (ISIS).
CONSERVATION IN SITU
In situ conservation refers to all actions carried out for the protection of endangered species that are implemented in the areas of origin of the species themselves. The Park is also active in this sense both through promoting research and awareness, and supporting organizations that are involved in international preservation projects.
Parco Natura Viva has one of the most active research programmes in the Italian zoo community. In October 2008 Parco Natura Viva organized the 1st national conference on zoo based researches; this meeting has become an important annual event. Parco Natura Viva’s Research Department conducts researches to improve animal management and wildlife conservation as well as to increase the knowledge about animal biology and welfare. Researches in Parco Natura Viva focus primarily on animal behaviour, cognition, sociality, environmental enrichment and training. Many students prepare their thesis under the supervision of the Research Department and different scientific publications are made each year.
Nowadays zoological gardens are places where people can not only see animals from all over the world, but also learn live a true educational experience. Zoos have become centers for environmental education. The Educational Department of Parco Natura Viva is more and more focused on becoming a real center for environmental education on a local level, with the purpose of offering educational programs and meetings to schools in order to promote environmental knowledge and make students aware of issues related to nature preservation. Parco Natura Viva is a member of IZE (International Association of Zoo Educators), an association that organizes yearly conferences and meetings. At these meetings, member institutions have the chance to present all the most innovative initiatives in education and cultural entertainment for the visitors of zoological gardens.