Conservation at
the Must Do Zoo

Inspiring others to join us in

caring for animals and

Conserving

the natural world

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ABOUT THE TOLEDO ZOO’S CONSERVATION EFFORTS

The Zoo sends dozens of employees across the globe to conduct research, participate in animal rehabilitation and implement conservation programs to better the lives of animals and ecosystems. The Zoo doesn’t forget about its own backyard though, as our Wild Toledo program does unique conservation work in northwest Ohio. As a visitor, member, volunteer or employee at the Zoo, it is easy to see and appreciate the world-renowned conservation efforts put forth by the Toledo Zoo.

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YOUR FAVORITE INITIATIVE.

Global Efforts

We participate in and support conservation efforts around the world.

Local Efforts

Make a difference in our own back yard.

Wild Toledo Prairie Initiative

Adding beauty and other benefits throughout northwest Ohio.

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Hellbenders

Butterflies

Karner Blue, Mitchell’s Satyr & Monarch

Lake
Sturgeon

Mesopredators

Racoons & Opossums

Largest Salamander in The Americas

The Toledo Zoo, a member of the Ohio Hellbender Partnership (OHP), is rearing hellbenders for release in southeastern Ohio.

The eastern hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, is a state-endangered species, with pollution and loss of habitat eliminating wild populations throughout much of their historic range. Hellbenders need clean and siltation free streams for survival. Today, some of Ohio’s streams have recovered and can again support hellbender populations.

The Zoo helps by collecting eggs in these streams and transporting them back to the Zoo for rearing, where survivability of the young can be much higher than in the wild. Some of these young hellbenders are later released in the same creeks and streams in which they were collected, while others are used to repopulate streams that supported hellbenders in the past.

The Zoo also partnered with Penta Career Center in Perrysburg, Ohio to establish a bio-secure room with aquariums to headstart hellbenders and give high school students the opportunity to learn hands-on husbandry of hellbenders.

Partners

Native Butterflies

The Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) was listed as an endangered species in 1992 because of habitat loss and loss of the flowering plant lupine, of which this animal depends on for its life cycle. This butterfly is a symbol of the Oak Openings Region and was last seen in Ohio in 1988 but was reintroduced in 1998. Toledo Zoo is working to protect these butterflies by completing population counts and vegetation analysis in particular habitats to assist conservation efforts in Michigan.

One of the world’s rarest butterflies, the Mitchell’s Satyr is found exclusively in fen habitats in Michigan and Indiana. These butterflies are listed as an endangered species because of habitat loss as they require a specialized wetland habitat found in prairie fens for survival. Draining and altering of these fens for agriculture has decimated the Satyr population. Mitchell’s satyrs are collected in the wild, then brought back to the Zoo to lay their eggs on sedges in specialized enclosures. The adults are then released back where they were collected.

Unfortunately, over the past 15 years, Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) populations have shown huge declines as illegal logging threatens their overwintering range, and milkweed (the monarch host plant, Asclepias spp.) becomes increasingly rare across their northern summer range. In recognition of the monarchs’ plight, the Toledo Zoo has started breeding the butterflies for release. Early in the summer of 2014, biologists collected 25 eggs from milkweed plants at the Zoo and reared the butterflies on milkweed grown by Wild Toledo staff. These individuals were then bred and their resulting offspring reared for release into the wild to complete their annual migration to Mexico.

Partners

Sturgeon Rearing

Toledo Zoo constructed a modular facility on Zoo-owned property near the Maumee River to headstart lake sturgeon. We expect to rear thousands of lake sturgeon from eggs collected in U.S. and Canadian waters until the fish are approximately six months old. At that point, the sturgeon will be released into the Maumee River and their population monitored by fisheries biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal is to rear the fish in Maumee River water from a young age and capitalize on the homing ability of the species in hopes that they will return to the waterway to spawn at adulthood in approximately 20 years.

In the 1800s, lake sturgeon were abundant in the Maumee River, however, demand of caviar and fuel along with commercial over fishing caused the population to decline and ultimately disappear. Currently, Ohio doesn’t have a reproducing lake sturgeon population.

Find out more about the upcoming Lake Sturgeon Release and read about Lake Sturgeon reintroduction to the Maumee River.

Partners

On Grounds Mesopredators

Mesopredators are medium-sized predators whose populations often increase when their larger predators are eliminated. Locally, these are raccoons, opossums and skunks.

Through the Wild Toledo initiative, we are attempting to establish a healthy non-reproductive population of resident skunks, opossums and raccoons: animals which would otherwise present a disease concern to our animal collection. We are health-assessing, vaccinating and surgically sterilizing them through a grant we received from the Kenneth Scott Charitable Trust.

We are also putting global positioning satellite (GPS) logging collars on a few animals to determine the population’s geographic range, as well as learning more about urban mammal species and the critical components of their habitat. These collars turn themselves on multiple times during the night and note the animal’s location.

Native
Turtles

 

Ohio’s
Rare Snakes

White Lady’s
Slipper

Wildlife
Technology

Native Turtles

Wild Toledo is evaluating local turtle populations in the Toledo-area wooded areas and marshes through mark recapture techniques with painted turtles, common snapping turtles, spotted turtles and Blanding’s turtles. This data will allow Wild Toledo biologists to determine the population health of these species by providing insight on size, weight and number of turtles in each study location.

Biologists also use radiotelemetry to find turtles in their environment. Turtles are previously caught and are outfitted with a transmitter and released back in to their habitat. They are then tracked once a week to see how they are using that habitat. The transmitter is harmlessly attached to the shell with an epoxy that can be removed later on. The antennae is situated behind the turtle and is flexible to allow the turtle to move unrestricted.

Additionally, in our native prairies, Wild Toledo biologists have seen red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus), five-lined skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus), brown snakes (Storeria dekayi), common water snakes (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) and Butler’s gartersnakes (Thamnophis butleri).

Calling all Science Enthusiasts!

Anyone can be a Citizen Scientist! Participation only requires you to go outside and explore. Upload images of reptiles or amphibians that you encounter while out on your adventure. Zoo staff will catalog and update our map of native species distribution.
Upload Your Data

Upload your images including as much information as possible such as date, location and potential species. Image sizes are limited to 150 MB. By uploading your image, you agree to our terms of use and acknowledge that your image may be used for marketing.

Calling all Science Enthusiasts!

Anyone can be a Citizen Scientist! Participation only requires you to go outside and explore. Upload images of reptiles or amphibians that you encounter while out on your adventure. Zoo staff will catalog and update our map of native species distribution.

Upload Your Data

Upload your images including as much information as possible such as date, location and potential species. Image sizes are limited to 150 MB. By uploading your image, you agree to our terms of use and acknowledge that your image may be used for marketing.

Native Snakes

We have joined statewide efforts to assess the status of the Kirtland’s snake (Clonophis kirtlandii). These snakes typically inhabit wet prairies and are extremely difficult to find because they appear to spend the majority of their time underground in crayfish burrows. Typical cover object surveys have proven successful for finding Kirtland’s snakes, but the periodic flooding or drying of the wet prairies can make this method unreliable. To overcome this obstacle, Wild Toledo researchers have partnered with Dr. Andrew Gregory at Bowling Green State University to use environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect these elusive snakes.

Partners

Calling all Science Enthusiasts!

Anyone can be a Citizen Scientist! Participation only requires you to go outside and explore. Upload images of reptiles or amphibians that you encounter while out on your adventure. Zoo staff will catalog and update our map of native species distribution.
Upload Your Data

Upload your images including as much information as possible such as date, location and potential species. Image sizes are limited to 150 MB. By uploading your image, you agree to our terms of use and acknowledge that your image may be used for marketing.

Calling all Science Enthusiasts!

Anyone can be a Citizen Scientist! Participation only requires you to go outside and explore. Upload images of reptiles or amphibians that you encounter while out on your adventure. Zoo staff will catalog and update our map of native species distribution.

Upload Your Data

Upload your images including as much information as possible such as date, location and potential species. Image sizes are limited to 150 MB. By uploading your image, you agree to our terms of use and acknowledge that your image may be used for marketing.

Saving the White Lady’s Slipper

White Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium candidum) is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the Orchid family. Orchids are characterized by having vibrant and intricate flowers that often have a pleasant fragrance. The White Lady’s Slipper is a food deceptive flower, meaning the flower advertises a food (nectar) reward to pollinators while not providing one. This unique floral adaptation reduces the likelihood of self-pollination and dramatically decreases the rate of pollination.

In Ohio, the White Lady’ Slipper is limited to three disjunct populations, two of which are at considerable risk of becoming extirpated because of declines in native prairie habitat due to agriculture and urbanization. These factors have resulted in the species being listed as endangered in the state of Ohio.

The Toledo Zoo is working on a plan to prevent the extinction of this flower by conducting research in situ (natural habitat) and ex situ (in a lab) with the eventual goal of reintroducing additional orchid plants into their native habitat.

Wildlife Monitoring

GPS TRACKING
Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is one of the many methods used to monitor animal movements. We have used GPS loggers to track mesopredators, Blanding’s turtles, spotted turtles and box turtles. However, these loggers are often expensive, upwards of ~$2,000 and the number of animals we can track this way is typically limited. Recently, we partnered with Patrick Cain, an instructor at Georgia Gwinnett College, to make our own GPS loggers at the Zoo. These loggers lack the bells and whistles of their commercial counterparts, but at ~$50 per unit, we can deploy them on many more individuals. Currently, we are tracking 23 box turtles outfitted with GPS loggers and anticipate putting these loggers on all of our radio telemetry turtles.

TRAIL CAMERAS
We have established an intricate web of trail cameras in order to monitor animals that live and move within the Green Ribbon Corridor, which ranges from Secor Metropark south to Maumee State Forest and through Oak Openings Preserve Metropark. This project helps determine the absence or presence of many animals, including bobcats, badgers, turkey, black bear, coyote, deer and mesopredators like raccoons, skunks and opossum.

Partners
HELLBENDERS
BUTTERFLIES
LAKE STURGEON
MESOPREDATORS
NATIVE TURTLES
OHIO'S RARE SNAKES
WHITE LADY'S SLIPPER
WILDLIFE TECHNOLOGY

Sustainability at the Zoo

Learn about the Zoo’s sustainable practices and initiatives.
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Join the Efforts

Learn how you can conserve the natural world through these helpful tips.
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Conservation Around the Globe

From butterflies in our own backyard to tiny toads in Tanzania and giant polar bears in Canada to feathered friends throughout the Pacific Ocean, your Zoo is working to create a better world for all living things.

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