Having been launched as a private organization by 19 zoos and aquariums in 1939,
the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums became an incorporated association in
1965 with 88 zoos and aquariums as members. Currently, we have developed into an
organization to which 156 zoos and aquariums belong. But the current situation
surrounding zoos and aquariums is by no means an easygoing one.
As society undergoes varied changes, zoos and aquariums are faced with a multitude of day-to-day challenges. These include those to the number of visitors; operation and management; the gathering, conservation, and breeding of animals; the accumulation and passing down of breeding techniques, and more. And that is not all. Although 128 years have passed since the advent of zoos and aquariums in Japan, I feel that the Japanese culture regarding zoos and aquariums has not yet matured. I take pride in the fact that we make a significant contribution to the public and the citizenry, such as through our involvement in the in-situ and ex-situ conservation of rare species and with social education, and also by providing recreational forums. On the other hand, according to the Law for the Humane Treatment and Management of Animals zoos and aquariums are regarded as "animal handlers." Japan is one of the countries with the most zoos and aquariums in the world, and yet national zoos and aquariums and laws on zoos and aquariums do not exist in Japan. The situation is such that there are no Japanese national policies for or recognition of zoos and aquariums.
I believe that this is backed by the fact that the social recognition of zoos and aquariums is ambiguous across all levels and fields of the society in Japan, including the state, the public and citizenry, and the mass media. This is something that we must reflect upon as a weakness on the part of the zoos and aquariums in terms of communicating with general public.
I would like to clarify the social objectives of zoos and aquariums in Japan, as well as bring the culture surrounding zoos and aquariums in Japan to maturity.
Since 1998, the theme of the annual conference of our association has been "Relationship among Nature, Environment, and Mankind." This is because the conservation of biodiversity and the effective use of resources, global warming countermeasures, and the development of sustainable, environmentally-friendly societies and human resources are issues of the utmost priority for us.
Zoos and aquariums are valuable institutions for the earth that are capable of
contributing to the resolution of global challenges.
There is no doubt that the social objectives of modern zoos and aquariums is to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and to foster the sense of values and environment for feeling, thinking about, and acting on our connection with the life that exists on this earth.
I would like for us to take pride in striving to achieve social and cultural maturity for the zoos and aquariums in Japan for the sake of the people and animals that live on this earth.
I want to kindly ask for your support for both Japan's zoos and aquariums and the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Shigeyuki Yamamoto, Chairman
Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums