Cuban Crocodiles Thriving
Approximately 600 Cuban crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer) were reintroduced to the Lanier Swamp on the Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, in 1994 and 1995. The crocodiles were bred in a Cuban crocodile farm and tagged for future study. In 1996, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's (AZA) Cuban Crocodile Species Survival Plan (SSP) participated in a field monitoring program led by Flora y Fauna, Cuba's conservation agency. The Cuban Ministry of Industrial Fisheries and the IUCN/SSC (World Conservation Union/Species Survival Commission) Crocodile Specialist Group also joined the effort to capture tagged individuals. Life history data were collected and the growth, health, and dispersal of the released population was assessed. Two of the ten captured crocodiles were of unknown origin. Based on their sizes and the fact that the species is believed to have been extirpated from the island close to forty years ago, it is believed that the two crocodiles are offspring of the reintroduced animals. The captured animals and the population appear to be thriving. The AZA Crocodilian Advisory Group has identified priority projects that will further the development of the Cuban Crocodile SSP. The SSP plans to continue its participation in the in situ recovery efforts in Cuba with possible future reintroductions into two freshwater locations.
New England Designated for Participation in Coastal America Partnership Program
The New England Aquarium has been designated as a non-federal facility to participate in Coastal America: A Partnership for Action. This program, coordinated by the President's Council on Environmental Quality, has been designed to address coastal problems by facilitating collaboration and cooperation among the public and private sectors, through the sharing of information, pooling of field expertise, and combining of management skills and resources. Because one-third of the U.S. population lives in coastal areas, the threat to the ecological health and sustainability of coastal environments is fast becoming a serious issue. Coastal America's challenging goal is to restore, protect and maintain coastal resources, while moving forward with economic growth. The New England Aquarium will be the site of Coastal America's Regional Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center and will function as an official U.S. government distribution point for Coastal America's approved educational and outreach materials on aquatic habitats. Additional AZA member aquariums are under consideration.
Attwater's Prairie Chicken and Wyoming Toad Become SSPs
Petitions for the Attwater's prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) and the Wyoming toad (Bufo hemiophrys baxteri) to participate in the AZA's Species Survival Plan program have been approved by AZA's Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee. The Attwater's prairie chicken numbered only 68 individuals in the wild in 1995. A cooperative captive breeding effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Texas A&M University and several AZA institutions has been underway since 1992 to assist in the species' recovery. The Wyoming toad is unique in that it has never been found outside a 50 kilometer radius of the city of Laramie, Wyoming. Pesticides, habitat loss and increased predation are believed responsible for the decline of this rare species, which was listed as endangered by the FWS in 1984.
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