Experts estimate that the accelerated loss of species we’re seeing today is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.

In other words, we’re losing species populations 1,000-10,000 times faster than we would be if humans weren’t walking the Earth.

There is no doubt that humans are the No. 1 threat to wildlife and wild places; we're in a biodiversity crisis of our own making.

So, let’s do something about it. Together. Now.


The World Species Congress has been designed to empower countries worldwide to protect the species that share our gardens, forests, seas and skies.

At the first World Species Congress in history, taking place on May 15th, 2024, attendees will participate in 24 hours of non-stop keynote workshops designed to forge international relationships that will amplify species protection. This is an opportunity for the world to come together in pursuit of a common goal: preventing species decline through collective conservation action.

Organizers, including Reverse the Red, the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, hope to see the Congress result in 100,000 commitments to conservation around the world.

The saying, ‘Go Big or Go Home’ comes to mind.

Science works, and we’ve seen that success. Collaborating on conservation projects is the ONLY way we’ll see results on the scale the Planet needs.

Take the example of the Capital Kiwi Project, a conservation initiative that emphasizes collaboration to transform the pace and scale of Kiwi conservation. Just last year, 50 Kiwi were released into the hills around Wellington, a significant step in the revival of wild Kiwi populations. Such a mammoth effort could not have been achieved without the locals, landowners and iwi who work together with conservationists.

Te Nukuao Wellington Zoo has had the privilege of playing a part in the Capital Kiwi Project through an MOU we signed to provide veterinary support throughout each Kiwi release.

More collaborative still, Te Nukuao Wellington Zoo has been working with local communities and conservationists on a long-term species recovery plan for Whitaker’s Skinks. This May, a team from the Zoo visited Nga-Manu Nature Reserve to help census the Whitaker’s Skinks living there and bring the babies back to the Zoo for head-starting. This critically endangered species used to populate Pukarua Bay but is now presumed extinct in that area; the only remaining wild populations reside in the Coromandel. The Skinks cared for in Wellington, including at Te Nukuao Wellington Zoo, are a crucial representation of genetic diversity for this species which used to be widespread across the North Island.

Collaborating with Nga Manu and a private holder, the Zoo has been able to head-start the most recent generation of babies at our in-house reptile facility, Te Piringa Iti, with hopes that the population will continue to grow.

At the heart of the World Species Congress is the knowledge that if we don’t act quickly, together, NOW, the grave that humanity has dug for the creatures we share the Earth with will continue to overflow.

When it comes to conservation, collaboration goes hand in hand with action plans. We need to work with our colleagues around the world if we want even the slightest chance of slowing the rapidity of species decline.

The World Species Congress exists to inspire collaborative action. The 100,000 commitments we’re aiming for will accelerate species recovery through teamwork; we can do more if we work together.

As I write this, the kaupapa of Te Nukuao Wellington Zoo comes to mind: Mi Tiaki Kia Ora!

We must look after our environment so all life will flourish. It is up to us to make a difference for animals and the wild places they call home.

We have the tools, we have the expertise, and we have the absolute will to stop species decline.


Karen Fifield MNZM, Chief Executive Te Nukuao Wellington Zoo, President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums