This year, with support from the Kushiro City Government and councilors, Taipei Zoo’s Amphibian and Reptile House will welcome 4 giant, natural marimo moss balls for the first time. This is the first time that Japan has exported natural marimo moss balls over the diameter of 10cm abroad through the cooperative project on conservation and exhibition. Taipei Zoo and Kushiro in Japan have always held a close cooperative relationship; for example, the Red-crowned Crane ex situ conservation plan in 2011 introduced Red-crowned Cranes for conservation, breeding, and educational exhibition purposes. Now, the introduction of large natural marimo moss balls for the first time not only signifies Kushiro’s support for Taipei Zoo in promoting the conservation of endangered species, but also highlights both parties’ progress in international conservation collaboration.
“How adorable, why are they rolling around? Are they animals?” These are the children’s most frequently asked questions in front of the marimo moss ball exhibition tank. Also known as the Gems of the Lake, marimo moss balls are a type of algae found in the lakes of cold regions in the northern hemisphere. Since its naturally-formed round shape is extremely rare, the invaluable marimo moss balls have come becoming increasingly well-known and popular. Lake Akan in Hokkaido, Japan is the largest natural habitat of marimo moss balls. However, since the mid-20th century, due to human development and environmental pollution at Lake Akan, the number of marimo boss ball habitats decreased from 4 to 2. In 1921, marimo moss balls were declared a National Natural Monument of Japan due to their uniqueness and rarity. In 1952, they were declared a National Special Natural Monument of Japan in order to legally protect the marimo moss balls and evoke people’s awareness of marimo moss ball conservation.
When the New Red-crowned Crane Exhibition Ground was opened on October 6, the large marimo moss balls from Kushiro, Japan were also debuted at the Amphibian and Reptile House. Just like the Red-crowned Crane, the marimo moss ball is also a pride of Kushiro, and now both successfully repopulated endangered species are meeting in Taiwan, making the event much more meaningful. This not only suggests that Kushiro has recognized Taipei Zoo’s efforts in marimo moss ball cultivation and education promotion, but also serves as a testament to the collaboration between both parties in Red-crowned Cranes and marimo moss balls, as well as their contributions to wildlife conservation and environmental education.
Taipei Zoo shoulders the heavy responsibility of species conservation and environmental education. The zoo not only engages in endangered species conservation projects through international cooperation and breeding, but also proactively conveys the ecological values of biodiversity to the public. Taipei Zoo and Kushiro in Japan have forged a bond via the joint promotion of natural monument conservation, and in the future both parties will continue to work hand in hand towards the goal of maintaining biodiversity.