The Zoological Foundation of El Salvador (FUNZEL) is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that was founded on May 18, 1992. Our purpose is to protect and conserve wildlife in El Salvador, developing research programs, rehabilitation of species, veterinary medical care, environmental education and awareness of various sectors of the population in order to avoid traffic and tenure of wild animals as pets and/or in captivity.

FUNZEL was in its origins a support mechanism for the National Zoo, but they become separated efforts afterwards. The Foundation became then the only wildlife rescue center of the country. For years it was based on this subject, but it has evolved today, to become a part of a wildlife rescue system, in cooperation with the National Civil Police, the National Zoological Park, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and other private entities.

FUNZEL has a very wide experience in the field of wildlife conservation, it is the only NGO focused on the conservation of species and also with the great contribution of including veterinary medicine as a biology tool for conservation. As such, FUNZEL has made efforts to conserve birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

In recent years, FUNZEL has specialized in the implementation of programs and projects for the conservation of wildlife and their ecosystems, focusing special efforts on coastal marine resources of the country for the conservation of the 4 species of sea turtles that nest on the Salvadoran coast: The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), The olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizzi).

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For this last program, the strategic objective is to strengthen the coastal communities, designing and implementing mechanisms of economic alternatives for Salvadoran turtle caretakers. FUNZEL works in five lines of action which are:

  1. Management of beaches and Hatcheries used for Turtle Eggs Incubation.
  2. Financing and sustainability mechanisms.
  3. Community development.
  4. Public awareness.
  5. Scientific Research.

Up to this day, FUNZEL has worked in at least 50 communities to improve beach management and the conservation of sea turtles, and also has come to have up to 32 operating hatcheries along the Salvadoran coast. FUNZEL works throughout the Salvadoran coast from Playa El Maculiz, in La Union to Barra de Santiago, in Ahuachapán.

FUNZEL has developed activities in more than 250 communities in the coastal region. And it has a lot of experience in supporting coastal communities through technical assistance, also in identifying and developing economic and productive alternatives that contribute to improving the quality of life of these communities.

In these activities more than 2000 people have participated and have been trained through participatory methods in various subjects. The environmental education program that FUNZEL provides is oriented into raising awareness in people to improve the conservation of wild animals species, and due to that, workshops in sea turtle conservation and releasing are held.

The success obtained in the Sea Turtles Conservation Program, opened the door so that now we expand our efforts to the conservation of otters, frogs, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales. FUNZEL has the philosophy that species conservation leads to the conservation of spaces, that through an specific effort can create a broad ecosystem vision in which the human being is an integral part of every action.