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‘Escape From Extinction’ documentary details challenges and hope

by Susan and Simon Veness

The world is facing what scientists are calling a “sixth mass extinction.” More than a million species may be lost forever – but there is hope.

escape from extinction

More than 1 million species on planet Earth are threatened with extinction. The new 90-minute documentary, “Escape From Extinction,” focuses on the challenges faced by animal welfare specialists and conservation scientists, and the creatures they seek to protect.

Through historical and modern footage, plus interviews with researchers and conservationists, the 90-minute documentary, created by animal welfare organization American Humane, highlights the important work being done by certified and accredited zoological organizations and their partners around the world.

escape from extinction

Academy Award winner Helen Mirren narrates the documentary, lending both gravitas and optimism to an urgent situation.

It is no accident that the film has been released during a global pandemic, when the urgency of worldwide cooperation has come to the fore. But it isn’t all doom-and-gloom. Instead, this is a story of education, action, and hope. It is a story about bringing endangered animals back from the brink, and the work that must be done to continue that legacy.

Attractions Magazine spoke with Dr. Chris Dold, chief zoological officer at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, one of the expert participants in the documentary, who highlighted some of conservationists’ success stories: “Perhaps best known is the recovery of the California condor, a species rescued from the brink of extinction by the efforts of the San Diego Zoo and other partners in California. SeaWorld’s long-standing marine animal rescue program has helped recover and preserve threatened and endangered species such as the Florida manatee and the Guadalupe fur seal, to name only a few.”

It isn’t just larger mammals who need our help. “Less well known, but still vital to conservation, are projects like the light-footed Ridgway’s Rail breeding and reintroduction program in San Diego County,” says Dr. Dold. “The Ridgway’s Rail is a hen-sized marsh bird on the verge of extinction. Since 2001 SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and others, have partnered closely to help hatch chicks and reintroduce the birds into the wild as adults, aiding in the recovery of this endangered species.”

escape from extinction

“Escape From Extinction” looks to a brighter future for wildlife if everyone joins in the effort. Does Dr. Dold also have an optimistic outlook for endangered animals? “Yes, I’m very hopeful,” he says. “However, it’s on all of us to be good stewards of the planet and, ultimately, the welfare of animals is a collective, societal issue. There is truly amazing animal conservation work being done by accredited zoos and aquariums. We need to continue to support these organizations so that the experts who are caring for the animals can continue to focus on their vital work to help conserve them in the future.”

How can ordinary people help? He’s got an answer for that, too. “The simple act of visiting an accredited zoo or aquarium, such as a SeaWorld park, is an act of conservation. Each visit is an opportunity to learn about these vulnerable animals and how we can all do our part. The resources from each ticket also help us fund our conservation research programs and our rescue programs to conserve animals around the world.”

escape from extinction

“Escape From Extinction” is showing in 120 theaters across the nation, and proceeds from tickets go to American Humane to aid in their work to protect animals around the world. For more information, visit AmericanHumane.org.

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