TODAY   |  March 05, 2012

‘Wildlife Heroes’ protects animals from extinction

SeaWorld & Busch Garden Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina, co-author of the book “Wildlife Heroes,” talks about how it’s helping endangered species and introduces viewers to the loris and tamarin.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on today's call of the wild , protecting our wildlife and their habitats. sea world and busch garden animal ambassador julie gardenia is author of "wildlife heroes, 40 leading conservationists and the animals they are committed to saving." good morning, julie.

>> good morning.

>> you're here to help us be committed to saving the animals including the lorus who is so cute but he's a mammal who sven mouse.

>> the fact that he's cute is the problem. people think, o i want that as a pet. you know, every single lorus has been taken from the wild. this is a confiscated animal. because they are venn thousand they cut or pull their teeth as well which causes almost 90% of them to die.

>> there are superstitions associated with these animals.

>> you know how we have the rabbit's foot and things, they have the eyeball is the charm.

>> aw.

>> in southeast asia there are a lot of medicines. and the illegal wild life trade is a huge trade. as large as guns or drugs. people out there, one of the he rows in the book steve galster is working to stop illegal trade. he's worked with other organizations as well. it's something everybody needs to realize. jeff locken and i have seen wildlife declining around the world. people need to realize it takes individual personality.

>> behind you.

>> this is a crane?

>> a beautiful sandhill crane . this is a rescue from down in florida. basically cranes are one of the most imperilled species of birds.

>> why?

>> first of all, they need wetlands to survive. wetlands have been declining all over the world. they are a social species. at one point there were only 15 whooping cranes left. i don't know if you realized that. it really take as concentrated effort because they don't have off spring readily. our hero, george archibald works at the international crane foundation . they used novel techniques like getting in crane costumes and trying to get the cranes -- well, to get them into breeding fitness and all that, lay the eggs and try to make sure.

>> the lorus is leaving.

>> where's he going?

>> it's ironic that the crane is endangered. in japan it's a principle symbol of long life.

>> they are looked at as beautiful but it is an endangered species . we need to save the wetlands.

>> go ahead, natalie.

>> we have the cotton top --

>> oh, cute.

>> we have another adorable primate. they are only found in one spot in the world. matt, you want to hang onto that one?

>> she always has you hold on.

>> usually before she says, yes, and these are also venomous.

>> you always attract them, matt.

>> matt, you seem to draw the animals to you.

>> animal magnetism .

>> really cute.

>> i think -- oh, look.

>> ooh.

>> he's giving you a greeting there.

>> all right. found in columbia. they are only about 6,000 left in the wild. if you think about the fact that there are 7 billion people and 6,000 of these. very important for people to save the trees, the forests out there. there is an organization with our hero in the book which is rosamira gillian. local people need to realize they don't have to take forest products or these to be pets as well.

>> are they house trained or is this the last time i'm wearing this suit?

>> they are definitely used to people. but you never know.

>> last but not least.

>> okay. we're going to bring --

>> our favorite. i don't know how they will get along with the crane.

>> the crane will move out of the way.

>> the crane's hanging out.

>> we do feature penguins in the book. these guys represent climate change . climate change is most drastic at the poles. penguins are all from the southern hemisphere . because of climate change the way fish congregate. the way they move is now changed. where these guys normally would be feeding there are no more fish. they have to travel further. they can't bring enough fish back to the chicks. the chicks aren't making it. some populations of penguins have disappeared all together. others declined by 80%.

>> i love your books. these are real heroes our kids should be emulating. not the he rows we tend to label.

>> we hope so.

>> more on how to save the animals will be online at today.com. coming up, jon hamm after your local news.

>>> we're back now with more of