Korkeasaari leads the Endangered Markhor EEP Conservation Program. Image: Annika Sorjonen / Korkeasaari Zoo

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Helsinki welcomes a gathering of professionals dedicated to the conservation of animal species and biodiversity this week. Korkeasaari, the Helsinki Zoo, is hosting the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) Annual Conference for the first time, marking the largest zoo and aquarium industry gathering in Europe.

The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums brings together progressive zoos committed to saving animal species from extinction through conservation efforts, environmental education, and research.

Korkeasaari is one of the founding members of this 30-year-old organization, which now boasts over 400 zoos and aquariums among its members. In Finland, besides Korkeasaari, Ähtäri Zoo and Ranua Wildlife Park are also EAZA members. Korkeasaari is actively involved in EAZA's work, including the coordination of conservation breeding programs (EEP) for 35 species.

"International cooperation is essential in the conservation of animal species. Through collaboration, we preserve endangered species, discover best practices in animal care, and share knowledge about biodiversity. We welcome our guests to Helsinki to learn and be inspired by our work," says Sanna Hellström, CEO of Korkeasaari.

Over five intensive conference days, experts will share their knowledge through lectures, information sessions, and workshops focusing on various themes. Common lectures will address zoo communication, animal welfare, and the results of a two-year conservation campaign. During the evenings, conference attendees will have the opportunity to network through a social program and explore Korkeasaari Zoo and Helsinki.

The conference will host nearly 900 representatives from zoos, gathering at the Marina Congress Center in Katajanokka from September 12 to 16, 2023. The conference will kick off with opening speeches from Myfanwy Griffith, the Director of EAZA, and Sanna Hellström, CEO of Korkeasaari. Pekka Haavisto and Sirpa Pietikäinen will also deliver their greetings during the opening ceremony. Major events, including the opening ceremony, will be streamed on EAZA's Facebook page.

For many zoo representatives, this visit to Finland is their first, making it an opportunity to introduce them to the country's culture and elevate the event's ecological footprint. The conference program has gone mobile, materials used are primarily recycled or rented, and the menu features plant-based options along with fish and game meat, promoting sustainability and environmental responsibility.

HT

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