Vertebrate zoology is the study of animals which have a backbone. There are only about 50,000 different kinds of vertebrates, a pin-prick in the earth's biodiversity compared to the millions of different kinds of invertebrates - animals without backbones - and plants.
Despite this and because they tend to big, obvious, and frequently cute, vertebrates such as whales, big cats, and birds get far more public attention than all the rest.
This popularity means that vertebrates, far more than other animals or plants, become the symbols of campaigns to raise public awareness of environmental issues. It is this popularity which also makes them an important part of this museum.