Q&A with Aleisha

Video highlights from Extinction Sucks

Aleisha talks about conservation, how to get involved and also shares some crazy animal stories

How did you get into conservation?

A 6 foot tall, dark handsome man by the name of Kumba introduced me to conservation when I was 22 years old. Kumba was the first gorilla I ever met and worked with. Over time I built up a mutual respect with Kumba as I would with any new friend, we had a very special friendship. I couldn't accept that Kumba's species in the wild were being  killed by poachers to sell 'bushmeat'.

Gorilla meat and fingers are sold as a delicacy to the wealthy elite. I was intolerably troubled by the thought of losing Gorillas like Kumba forever and this was when I changed my career focus from being a zoo keeper to a Wildlife Conservationist. I realised looking after Gorillas in captivity was only half the story. What really mattered to me was to help ensure that these beautiful and intelligent, self aware animals survived in the wild. It was my friendship with Kumba that set me on the path to ensuring the protection of not only Gorillas but all endangered animals.

How does your approach differ to the normal way of raising awareness about endangered species?

Extinction Sucks is about putting fun and colour into conservation. People are tired of hearing overwhelming and unpleasant news so Extinction Sucks revolves around inspiring and encouraging people to care about endangered. Extinction Sucks wants to help create a safer, kinder, more loving world for all the animals facing Extinction like Kumba.

What's the weirdest/most extreme thing you've done in the name of animal conservation?

Getting stuck in a landslide in the Bamboo Mountains of China has to be one of my more extreme experiences. I was on my way to the deliver medical supplies to the Giant Pandas when it happened. We ended up having to blow it up with dynamite to get out!

What do you consider to be one of the most interesting, and not commonly known, animal facts
 * Gorillas giggle when they are tickled
 * Male Lizards do push-ups to seduce ladies
 * Bees dance just for the fun of it
 * Some Frogs have a stutter
 * Ants stretch when they wake up

Two amusing animal tales:
Yosuke the African Grey Parrot gave his full name and address to the police when he flew out of his cage and got lost in Tokyo and was safely returned home

A bear who broke into a house in California, raided the fridge and purposely pushed all the vegetables aside and went straight for the chocolates. He ate all the chocolates then tried to open a bottle of champagne but was not successful.

Other than the Tasmanian Devil, are there many other endangered Australian species?

Australia has the second-highest number of threatened animal species in the world. The Australian Government lists 1732 plants, animals and ecological communities as threatened, and a further 102 plants and animals that have already gone extinct. However we know that these lists are not comprehensive, and the total number of species threatened with extinction in Australia could be in the tens of thousands.

Do you have time for any other hobbies/activities in between saving animals?

I love adventure camping with Bear (my dog ) and my best friends, I enjoy writing and I am currently writing a book about animal emotion and intelligence, I also like to drink tea with my grandma when I am home.

How do you feel about keeping animals in zoos and their place in conservation?

Zoos can play an  important role in saving endangered animals from extinction.  Many zoos are responsible for breeding endangered animals in captivity and releasing them back into the wild. These captive breeding programs represents the last hope for the survival of many endangered species and  acts as protection from total extinction. Conservation efforts have saved animals like the Green Turtle, Mauritius Kestrel, Arabian Oryx, Echo Parakeet and Pink Pigeon from extinction

What are some of the ways we can get involved in saving animals?

1. Adopt a rescued Sun Bear at http://www.freethebears.org
2. Adopt a Panda at www.pandasinternational.org
3. Do not buy anything that is made from elephants or turtle such as ivory jewellery or trinkets, elephant leather wallets, or elephant hair bracelets
4. Take part in a Rhino Survey Expedition http://www.tigermountain.com
5. Adopt a sea turtle at http://www.mcsuk.org
6. Do your part to slow global warming find out how here http://www.fightglobalwarming.com
7. Don't litter. Plastic bags can easily make their way to the ocean and choke and subsequently drown sea turtles
8. Use Environmentally friendly bags that can replace 500 single-use plastic bags per year
9. Volunteer in a Free The Bears Sanctuary and help care for rescued bears http://www.freethebears.org
10. Learn more about how intelligent, emotional and human like gorillas are http://www.koko.org
11. Do not buy electrical items that contain Coltan
12. Become a Panda 'parent' by adopting a baby panda cub at http://www.pandasinternational.org
13. Sign up for Care For The Wild campaign updates http://www.careforthewild.com
14. Go on a Panda Eco tour http://www.westchinaadventures.com/Wolong

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