Rare Breeds Attract National Magazine To Sedgwick County Zoo

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Sedgwick County Zoo will be getting some coveted international exposure. National Geographic Magazine is focusing its lens on the zoo as part of an article on the important role it plays in wildlife preservation.

The Sedgwick County Zoo isn't just the state's most popular tourist attraction, it is also helping some of the world's rarest animal species. The National Geographic Magazine is coming to the zoo to take photographs for a July article. The Sedgwick County Zoo has the largest number of rare heritage breeds.

"No, that one is cool." That is a common reaction to seeing the rare heritage breeds in the Children's Farm. With 30 breeds, the zoo has the largest variety of rare breeds of livestock of any zoo in the country, says Senior Zookeeper Callene Rapp.

"The Sedgwick County Zoo has had a long history of working with rare breeds," Rapp said. The National Geographic article will be titled "Food Ark." It is about the importance of conserving plant and animal varieties. "Some of these breeds are actually more rare than a lot of the exotics that are found elsewhere in the zoo," Rapp added.

Rapp says breeds, once used on so many small American farms, could help preserve current popular breeds should disease attack them. "So, if we don't keep these other breeds around in order to have something to bring back, these genetics then we may be in a world of hurt."

National Geographic, Rapp says, is trying to educate people on issues of biodiversity. The zoo is only too pleased to be a part of the effort. "We were excited. We were thrilled when they contacted us because National Geographic is like the premiere magazine in the world," she said.

The magazine has used photographs taken at the Sedgwick County Zoo before without identifying where they came from. This time, there is a small cutline at the bottom of the page crediting the zoo. The public can wait for the July issue of National Geographic to come out and see what photos they took of these animals. Or, you can come out to the zoo yourself and see the animals in person and learn more about the rare heritage breeds.

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