Endangered Pond Turtles Released to the Wild

Western pond turtles

Endangered western pond turtles about to be released to the wild. Photo credits: Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released over a hundred endangered western pond turtles to their native habitat in an effort to restore the population.

Western pond turtles once commonly inhabited the western coast of the United States. But several threats, including predation by the non-native bullfrog, disease, and habitat loss, put them on the bring of extinction since the early 90s.

In 1991, the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project was established. Each year, recovery workers monitor adult female western pond turtles during the nesting season. They protect nesting sites with wire cages to prevent predators from eating the eggs. Then in the fall, the eggs and hatchlings are transported to the Woodland Park and Oregon Zoos where they can grow in safety.

“We return the turtles to their homes every summer once they reach a suitable size of about 2 ounces, a safeguard against the large mouths of bullfrogs,” explained Dr. Jennifer Pramuk, Woodland Park Zoo’s reptile curator.

Western pond turtle being released

Over a hundred western pond turtles were released to the wild by the Woodland Park Zoo and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photo by Kirsten Pisto.

For more photos, see the Woodland Park Zoo’s blog.

Collaborating to Save Tigers

Camera trap technology helps identify key habitats tigers use to hunt and breed in the Taman Negara region. Tracked with modern software, the data allow rangers and researchers to map routes for effective anti-poaching patrols. (Credit: Ruben Clements/Rimba)

Camera trap technology helps identify key habitats tigers use to hunt and breed in the Taman Negara region. Tracked with modern software, the data allow rangers and researchers to map routes for effective anti-poaching patrols. (Credit: Ruben Clements/Rimba)

Woodland Park Zoo has joined forces with Panthera to continue the battle to save tigers in the wild. The group will focus on saving tigers in Malaysia, where habitat loss and poachers have decimated the population. The ten year project will provide hands-on training and financial assistance to help save these tigers.

Learn more about Woodland Park Zoo here.

Learn more about Panthera.

Yellow-Backed Duiker Born at Memphis Zoo

Photo Credit: Provided Courtesy of Memphis Zoo, photographer: Sara Taylor

Photo Credit: Provided Courtesy of Memphis Zoo, photographer: Sara Taylor

June 28th saw the birth of Chester, a yellow-backed duiker, at the Memphis Zoo. Duikers are a species of antelope found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yellow-backed duikers are the largest and most abundant of all duiker species. They are threatened with extinction due to hunting for food and habitat loss.

Visit the Memphis Zoo website.

Galapagos Tortoises join Nashville Zoo

credit: Amiee Stubbs

credit: Amiee Stubbs

Bella and Darwin, two female Galapagos tortoises, will be making their public debut at the Nashville Zoo on July 27. The pair are both 20 years old, and Galapagos tortoises can live up to 150 years. Bella weighs 280 lbs and Darwin weighs 200, but they aren’t done growing yet! Fully grown, they will weigh 350 lbs.

Visit the Nashville Zoo.

Busch Gardens Celebrates International Tiger Day

Endangered Malayan Tiger Cubs and Mom on Jungala Habitat

International Tiger Day takes place on July 29th, and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida will be celebrating all weekend. In addition to discussions on tigers, feedings, and face painting, proceeds from the tigress and cubs plush toys sold in the Tiger Lodge gift shop in the Jungala area will be donated to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. On exhibit will be the endangered Malayan tiger cubs pictured.

Endangered Malayan Tiger Cubs and Mom on Jungala Habitat 2

Visit Busch Gardens.

Read about Siberian Tigers at Animal Fact Guide.

Rare Zoo-Raised Turtles Released to Wild

The Lincoln Park Zoo in conjunction with the US Fish & Wildlife Service is working to repopulate prairie land with native wildlife.

Ornate box turtle

A zoo-raised ornate box turtle prepares for release into the wild. Photo by Sharon Dewar / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Their most recent release was 18 ornate box turtle hatchlings in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Savanna, Illinois. The zoo is also recovering other prairie-dwelling wildlife including meadow jumping mice and smooth green snakes.

“Suitable habitat is being created, but many species have trouble accessing it due to fragmentation from roads and other physical barriers which makes re-colonization of restored sites improbable,” explained Allison Sacerdote-Velat, Ph.D. reintroduction biologist at Lincoln Park Zoo.

“These collaborative conservation partnerships are terrific because each agency brings a unique expertise. The zoo specializes in small population biology and animal care. We can successfully breed, hatch and care for these species until they are large and mature enough for release to the wild – a technique called ‘head-starting’ which gives them a greater chance of survival upon release.”

Ornate box turtle

An ornate box turtle taking its first steps in the prairie. Photo by Sharon Dewar / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Learn more about the release at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Toronto Zoo Breeds Critically Endangered Toad

Puerto Rican crested toad

Photo of an adult Puerto Rican crested toad by Jan P. Zegarra, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tadpoles prepared for shipment to Puerto Rico. Photo by Toronto Zoo.

Tadpoles prepared for shipment to Puerto Rico. Photo by Toronto Zoo.

The conservation team at the Toronto Zoo successfully bred the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad.  They shipped 26,000 tadpoles to Puerto Rico to be released into the wild.

“This is a very proud moment for our conservation team as it not only represents release of an endangered species but we also followed recommendations given to the Species Survival Plan which led to successfully breeding toads from the north and south of Puerto Rico,” said Bob Johnson, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians.

“Traditionally, researchers have always kept and bred the north and south toads separately. This time, on the recommendation of Canadian research geneticist Kaela Beauclerc from Trent University, we are able to increase the genetic makeup of the resulting offspring”, explains Johnson.

Tadpoles

Approximately 26,000 tadpoles were successfully bred by the conservation team. Photo by Toronto Zoo.

Lion Cubs at Busch Gardens

Lion cubs at Busch Gardens

These lion cub sisters were born on March 20 at Busch Gardens. Photo by Busch Gardens.

Busch Gardens welcomed three little lions recently. Two female cubs were born on March 20, and an unrelated male cub was born on February 20. All the cubs have genetic lines from the Kalahari and Kruger regions of South Africa, where lions are recognized for their large size and impressive manes on the males.

More information and updates about the progress of the new cubs will be posted on  BuschGardensTampaBlog.com. You can help name the lion cub sisters at the Busch Gardens Tampa Facebook page.

In the wild, lions once inhabited most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. Now around 20,000-30,000 of these big cats live in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in protected reserves. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports several projects in Africa, which work to protect and preserve the species.

To learn more about lions, visit our lion facts page.

Lion cubs at Busch Gardens Lion cubs at Busch Gardens

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UPDATE: The winning names for the three-month-old cubs are Shaba, meaning “brazen”, and Shtuko, meaning “twitch”.

Baby Bonobo at Memphis Zoo

Bonobo and baby

Bonobo baby with mom Kiri. Photo credit: Laura Horn, Memphis Zoo.

A baby bonobo was born at the Memphis Zoo on May 12 to parents Kiri and Mofana. The sex of the baby is still not known, but zoo staff will determine the gender in the coming weeks.

According to Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs, “This is a species that needs a lot of help, so every birth is significant. Bonobos are still very rare in the wild and in captivity. They are a high conservation priority, and Mo and Kiri are a good genetic match.”

In the wild, bonobos inhabit the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Currently, the IUCN has categorized bonobos as endangered. Civil war in the Congo has hugely impacted bonobo society, fragmenting their population to isolated pockets and limiting their genetic diversity.

To learn more about bonobos, see our bonobo facts article.