Joan Embery at the San Diego Zoo

Joan Embery at the San Diego Zoo. Photo by Chris Martin

Joan Embery on

Why Zoos are Good for Conservation


Keeping wildlife in captivity is bad. Animals being free to roam the wild is good. Right?


The issues surrounding animal rights can seem very black and white to armchair activists. But what happens when the habitats in which these animals live– their food sources, their safe havens– are destroyed? What happens when humans hunt and poach animals to the brink of extinction? How do we save these species for future generations?


For better or worse, most kids first learn about wildlife from their local zoo. The very best zoos not only focus on wildlife education, but conservation of endangered species via captive breeding and responsible re-introduction programs:

  • The Phoenix Zoo helped bring the Arabian Oryx back: Extinct in the wild in 1972, there are now more than 1,000 roaming freely.
  • Critically endangered by loss of their Brazilian rainforest habitat, the Golden Lion Tamarin‘s status has been improved by captive breeding at DC’s National Zoo.
  •  There were only 22 California Condors left in the wild by the late 1980s. The San Diego Zoo used condor hand puppets to feed baby birds, and now more than 200 fly free.
  • Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has used artificial insemination to breed and release over 200 Black-Footed Ferrets, which were mostly extinct in the wild by 1980.
  • Only 45 Amur Leopards remain in the wild, but there are 220 in breeding programs in zoos around the world, with a reintroduction scheme currently in the planning stages.


Joan Embery is one of the world’s leading wildlife conservation advocates. A professional Fellow of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, she founded the American Association of Zoo Keepers. As the San Diego Zoo’s goodwill ambassador since the early 1970s, she’s appeared on The Tonight Show nearly 50 times and hosted educational shows such as Animal Express, Animals of Africa and myriad PBS specials.


We recently spoke to Embery about breaking into the male-dominated world of veterinary medicine in the late ’60s, what drew her to wildlife education, why zoos are good for conservation, and the role she sees ecotourism having in saving endangered species.

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Obama Gets Greener (Courtesy of Steve Jurvetson)

Obama Gets Greener (Courtesy of Steve Jurvetson)

How Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Impacts Climate Change


What a week it is when the powers-that-be in the grand ol’ USA decide to take a leap towards greener energy!


We’ve become far too familiar with weak environmental policy efforts that involve pacing around, arguing over the validity of Climate Change, while fossil fuels continue to vaporize into greenhouse gases.


So this week’s revelation of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan was a monumental moment that will soon change our entire energy system… for real!


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Lions in Africa

Photo by Susan Portnoy via

New Clients! Our Next Big Adventure!

The Future of GGT


My buddy Tony and I couldn’t have been more different: I was a long-haired, arty music business major with tattoos and earrings, he was a soft-spoken, short-haired, seemingly conservative science major. We connected at the pizza place where we worked, bonding over our mutual love of music– jazz, funk, reggae and hip-hop in particular– often trading CDs that inspired us.


With him on bass and me on vocals, we eventually formed a band together and began working our way up in the Atlanta music scene. I was a marketing intern for a major record label at the time, and used my connections to garner some interest from industry A&R reps for our edgy, alternative rock-rap sound. (This was 1992, when such things were not yet considered passé.)


But fate threw a curveball right in the face of my rock star aspirations: Upon graduating from Georgia State University, Tony signed with the Peace Corps and shipped off to teach fish farming in the central African nation of Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world. I quit playing music, embarking on a career as a music journalist instead.



Cheetahs in South Africa


Tony and I kept in touch regularly over the next five years, as his Peace Corps projects moved him from Burundi to Gabon, and later Zambia, with only brief journeys to visit home in between. Every month I’d send him a package filled with new music, magazines and letters from home, and he’d send back music, photos and letters about his life in Africa. Our friendship gradually grew deeper, and I fell in love with the continent through his stories.


Tony was the first person I ever knew who went on an African safari. The stories he brought home from his trip to Kenya & Tanzania (which included incredible photos and National Geographic-worthy video of a lion on top of a floating hippo carcass defending his prize from hostile crocodiles) left me delighted for him and determined to see Africa for myself. And his Peace Corps experience ultimately inspired me to pursue my own crazy dreams…

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Hug it Forward school children in front of the bottle wall

Hug it Forward school children in front of the bottle wall

 Eco-Building Blocks for a Growing Nation

A New Wave of Construction in Guatemala


Two major problems I’ve seen in most impoverished countries are insufficient construction and severe environmental concerns. Guatemala, my home for four of the last seven years, is no stranger to these issues. But, that’s not to say no one cares.


Not only does Guatemala contend with massive litter problems, chemical runoff in its lakes, and no organized recycling system, but Guatemala City also houses Central America’s largest landfill. To compound the problem, an entire community survives by finding recyclables in the dump, living on food waste, and building homes out of unsanitary materials.


Even away from the landfill, many homes and public buildings, like schools, are a mishmash of scavenged cinder blocks and scraps of tin. My second year living here was spent volunteering for an NGO, Las Manos de Christine, that assists a small public school in the village of El Hato, only a few miles outside of Antigua, the country’s pristine tourism capital. It was in trying to build a new English classroom in El Hato that I became aware of some of the awesome ecological building projects happening here.

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40 Images of Greece

That’ll Make You Want to Go NOW


Despite the news today that Greek Banks have reopened their doors for the first time in 3 weeks, the country remains on the brink of a major financial crisis. But what does the threat of a “Grexit”– the hyperbolic term for Greece dropping out of the eurozone and reverting to its old currency, the drachma– mean for travelers?


According to Andreas Andreadis, president of the Greek Tourism Confederation known as SETE, there is no cause for travelers to be concerned. “Greece is beautiful, peaceful and quiet. I don’t believe there’s a risk of a strike or protest,” he said in an interview with CNN. “In the worst case scenario banks will have capital controls, but that will not affect tourists. Money will be available and credit cards will work. Greece is the best value for money this year.”


The truth is that Greece’s financial issues ensure that strong currencies such as the U.S. dollar and Euro will stretch further than ever before. And because we loved the country so much during our 16-day island-hopping tour, we wanted to share 40 of our favorite images of Greece, which we hope will encourage you to book your ticket to the cradle of Western civilization asap….

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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Destinations We’ve Covered:

Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
Australia-Maria Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities


Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba