Despite the mixed weather on Friday, on Saturday the volunteers and cooperation partners were able to enjoy beautiful sunshine and blue skies as they engaged with visitors around the zoo. The two-day event included several talks in the Species Conservation Centre, which were well attended by animal lovers. Last Friday and Saturday, Hellabrunn Zoo hosted an action weekend to raise awareness about the need for climate protection. The event CLIMATE, ANIMALS & US (KLIMA, TIER & WIR) shed light on the challenges for nature, animals and humans in an era of climate change. This is because the rapid pace of climate change poses an existential threat to the flora and fauna of many ecosystems. The aim of the weekend was to team up with external cooperation partners to educate visitors about climate protection and to give valuable advice on what they can do to help save the environment.

Information stands dotted around the zoo

No matter where they chose to start their tour, visitors were able to find a variety of information stands dotted around the zoo, offering fascinating facts about climate change. From the Reptile Rescue Centre e.V. and Save the Drill e.V. stands at the entrance of the World of Small Monkeys, to the "Isarfischer“, "Kartoffelkombinat" and "Unser Land" stands in the Mühlendorf village, to the  "LBV München" stand in front of the large aviary, or even the information bike from Munich’s Department for Climate and Environment at the entrance of Giraffe House – along the circular route around Hellabrunn, there were volunteers offering advice on various aspects of conservation. The Hellabrunn team also had three stations, which offered lots of great activities for visitors and prize draws.

Every small action counts – for native and exotic animal species

Zoo director Rasem Baban emphasised the need for raising awareness and working together to protect the climate, species and the environment: "We should all think about what we can do in our daily lives, even small individual actions can make a big difference. At the action weekend, we show that climate protection can also be fun, despite how serious the issue is, and that everyone can really make a small but important contribution.”

Equally passionate about the event was the expert from Save the Drill e.V. Kathrin Paulsen, 1st chairwoman of the association: “We were invited by Hellabrunn to the CLIMATE, ANIMALS & US action weekend. Over the years we have had a long and successful partnership, which includes working together to protect the drill, a species that is also cared for here, and whose EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP) is managed by Hellabrunn. Our job is to raise awareness about the need to protect these rare primates." Drills are one of the most endangered primate species in the world. Their greatest single threat is habitat loss. However, they are also threatened by hunting: shooting animals for bushmeat is not uncommon, but this often leaves their young vulnerable. Abandoned juveniles are handed over to sanctuaries that take care of orphan primates. “We support them - with the help of donations from Hellabrunn Zoo and others," adds Paulsen.

But local species urgently need protection too, as Thomas Türbl, board member of the Reptile Rescue Centre in Munich, pointed out: "We took part because we wanted to make people aware of Munich‘s ‘primitive creatures‘. This is a special project where we use a map to determine the locations of native amphibians and reptiles. Whether it’s a common toad in the garden, a grass snake in the cemetery or in the park or a newt in a pond in the park. We use the map to show where lizards, snakes, frogs and the like still live and how they can be protected. More and more large cities and the surrounding areas are becoming habitats again. Gardens and parks provide new habitats that animals are reclaiming and therefore require special protection."

For Florian Schönbeck, board member of Kartoffelkombinat, a non-profit agricultural cooperative, the action weekend was an important event to raise awareness about the need to protect plant biodiversity: "We have been working with Hellabrunn Zoo for the past five years and manage the Farmer's Garden here in the Mühlendorf village. With this project we want to show how vegetables were grown in the past and how it can still be done today. We also want to show how important the regional cultivation of seasonal food is and win over a broad audience. This worked very well during the two days of the action weekend, which of course we were delighted about. Hopefully, such an unusual opportunity to present information will get one or two visitors to think about supply alternatives and get involved.”

Donation proceeds go towards Humboldt penguins

The Hellabrunn Förderkreis support group also had a stand at the action weekend. On both days, visitors were invited to try their luck on the wheel of fortune in return for a donation, with great prizes to be won and, on top of that, free ice cream, which was kindly sponsored by Froneri Schöller. A total of €1,011.02 in proceeds was raised, which will go to Sphenisco e.V., a species conservation organisation that is committed to preserving the habitat of Humboldt penguins and is supported by Hellabrunn Zoo.