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Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725
A group of Ventura County students will be recognized by world-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall for their efforts to save the Channel Islands fox during a presentation at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara on Thursday, April 8th, at 10:00 a.m. These local students formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the island fox—S.O.S. (Save our Species). This group is affiliated with the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots global youth program. During the past four years S.O.S. has raised over $10,000 for the island fox, including a $1,000 grant from the Jane Goodall Institute. For three years these S.O.S. students have sponsored the annual Fall Fox Festival with the Santa Barbara Zoo.
The island fox is the one of the smallest and most geographically restricted canine species in the world. Four of the six subspecies found on the Channel Islands have declined as much as 95% since 1994 and have recently been listed as federal endangered species.
At the Arlington event, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum will present a proclamation from the City of Santa Barbara recognizing Dr. Goodall and S.O.S. and designating April 8th as Island Fox Day. The fourth annual Fall Fox Festival is scheduled for October 3, 2004, at the Santa Barbara Zoo. The festival will feature endangered species booths from many Southern California Roots & Shoots student groups.
The Santa Barbara Zoo has been an effective and generous partner for the park in its island fox captive breeding program since 1999. Director Rich Block and Curator Alan Varsik have generously donated the time of their key staff to assist the park with captive breeding. Zoo keepers and veterinarians have traveled to the islands to caretake island foxes and give captive island foxes veterinary care, at no cost to the park. The zoo is committed to the conservation of island foxes. The zoo has also taken the lead in development of husbandry methods for the species, which had never been held in captivity prior to 1999.
Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau will present certificates of appreciation to S.O.S., the Santa Barbara Zoo, and Jane Goodall for supporting the recovery of the island fox. Galipeau said “The National Park Service greatly appreciates the contributions from the community towards saving the island fox. The diligence and hard work of the S.O.S students, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and the Jane Goodall Institute are valuable to the long-term process of recovery for the island fox. I have to think the future of conservation is in good hands, when I see kids like this making a difference. They will continue to make a difference all of their lives.”