Many species of animals and birds from the rainforest have become so rare that encountering them in the wild is a time-consuming endeavor. However, these species can be seen in the rainforest exhibit at the Tallinn Zoo, and the living conditions created there for endangered species also provide a good opportunity for offspring, says Tõnis Tasane, Collection Manager at the Tallinn Zoo.
How many species of birds and animals can you see in a rainforest collection?
As the rainforest exhibit is still in the development phase we don’t know exactly how many species we can accommodate, but the main species are binturong, Asian small-clawed otters and fishing cats.
In addition, we have bird gardens where the bali minas live. Some of the animals and birds in the collection are free to move around and interact, such as the silver pheasant. And you can also see other reptiles in five different terrariums.
Are any of the specimens in this collection so exotic that you won’t see them elsewhere?
The Bali myna, which numbered less than 100 in 2015, is very exotic. It has been threatened with extinction since 1995. However, their numbers are slowly increasing as they are bred in zoos, but in the wild they are still very endangered. They are found in only three locations on the island of Bali.
Did any funny stories happen when the animals were transported here?
One of the more interesting stories happened with the water monitors that had to come from Switzerland- I had to go after them myself and we started the journey by car from Tallinn. Unfortunately the car broke down. There was nothing to be done – animals can only be transported in a fixed vehicle and we could not hire a new one in a hurry. So we drove back to Tallinn, got the car repaired, then headed back to Germany, leaving about a day’s drive to the zoo. The next day, however, the car’s engine broke down. There was nothing we could do, so we flew back to Tallinn again.
The water monitors finally arrived by plane with the help of a transport company. We met them at the airport and now the animals are happily in Tallinn Zoo for visitors to see.
Are the animals and birds we can see in this exhibit friendly?
There is nothing in the exhibit that is life-threatening to humans or that we should fear.
Occasionally, in Tallinn Zoo, we have also heard of cases of coins being thrown into the animal or bird pool. What do you make of this?
Yes, this issue of coins is definitely a problem, as we have several pools in the new collection. One of them is inhabited by Asian small-clawed otters – and they are very curious.
What and how much can Tallinn Zoo do to ensure the conservation of rare species?
The zoo’s role in species conservation is more educational. First of all, we introduce animal species to people globally, as well as the rainforest as a habitat. Another thing: we can artificially maintain rare species between zoos whose habitat is, for example, in the rainforest and therefore in decline. In this way, we can propagate them and, if necessary, release them into the wild. Animals in the rainforest area are not only threatened by hunting and smuggling, but also by the growth of human habitats.