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Saturday, July 21, 2012

CHUBU CONNECTION

Program is part of a new partnership with zoo in Mexico City to preserve biological diversity

Higashiyama Zoo to breed rare rabbit

Chunichi Shimbun

The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya and the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City have entered a partnership to breed rare species.

News photo
Zoobiquitous: The Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya will receive endangered volcano rabbits from Mexico next year in a breeding program. CHUNICHI SHIMBUN PHOTOS

Next year, the Higashiyama Zoo will receive endangered volcano rabbits (also known as the teporingo) and attempt to breed them.

To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the signing of a sister-city agreement between the two cities, Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura will visit Mexico City in August to sign the partnership agreement.

The Chapultepec Zoo was founded in 1923. It is well known for creating environments that closely imitate the animals' natural habitats with the strategic placement of fake rocks and trees.

The two cities have taken part in animal exchange programs before. In 2002, the Chapultepec Zoo gave spectacled, or Andean, bears to the Higashiyama Zoo and received Humboldt penguins, sometimes called Peruvian penguins, in return.

Neither zoo succeeded in breeding the animals, but they are determined to share information and technology under the new agreement. This will be the second zoo with which the Nagoya zoo has signed a partnership agreement. The first was with the Taronga Zoo in Sydney in 1996.

The idea for a partnership was first discussed during the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Nagoya in 2010.

News photo
A zoo worker grows special grass that will be used to feed the rabbits.

Staff from the Chapultepec Zoo went to the Higashiyama Zoo and by the end of the visit both parties had decided to join forces to ensure the preservation of biodiversity.

The volcano rabbit is characterized by its small rounded ears.

There are only around 7,500 left in the wild. The grasslands where they live are being destroyed to make way for residential buildings.

Preparations are under way at the Higashiyama Zoo to welcome the rabbits into their new home.

The zoo has started growing grasses of the Poacea family, which the animal favors.

Nagoya winters can be chilly compared with Mexico City, where the temperature rarely drops below 4 degrees, so the zoo is installing heating equipment in the rabbits' enclosure.

The two zoos are still discussing which animal will be sent to Chapultepec Zoo under the new program, but they will probably reach an agreement in the fall.

"Zoos can reduce the risk of animal extinction by exchanging rare endangered species and collaborating on breeding programs," said Chaya Kouichi, a veterinarian at the Higashiyama Zoo.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published July 12.


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