News from Zoos

Project Golden Frog takes a leap forward
The Baltimore Zoo recently received approval from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to import 20.20 adult Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki), and 100 end-stage tadpoles to develop a captive population of threatened golden frogs. Researchers left for Panama on 27 December 2000 to search for and gather pairs of frogs in amplexus or
tadpoles completing their metamorphosis stage. There are two main threats to the golden frogs—deforestation and a fungus that affects both adult frogs and tadpoles. The fungus is moving at a rate of 42 kilometers per year and will destroy the golden frog's habitat in two years or less. The project, which initially received more than $30,000 from the AZA Conservation Endowment Fund, has also received grants from the Columbus Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Miami Metrozoo, and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The funding from these institutions will provide both US participants and collaborating Panamanian scientists with four-wheel drive vehicles and support for field research activities.

International Snow Leopard Trust
Since the creation of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the International Snow Leopard Trust (ISLT), Woodland Park Zoological Gardens in Seattle has been integral to the snow leopard's survival. To further their commitment to this endangered species, The Woodland Park Zoological Society recently announced two challenge grants to be given to the Trust. These grants could not have arrived at a better time. ISLT is already involved in starting and supporting conservation and research projects in 12 countries in the snow leopard's natural habitat—central Asia. With the current economic and political instability in this region, increased hunting is occurring for the animal's pelts and for traditional medicine. This places even more stress on the wild population. There are an estimated 4,500 to 7,000 snow leopards remaining in the wild. The snow leopard is a keystone species in its native mountain habitat and to conserve this secretive cat, ISLT must deal with the ecosystem as a whole, especially the humans in the region. Over the past 20 years, the SSP has managed a captive population of 244 and is proud of the genetically diverse population now found in zoos. A major achievement for the SSP was the birth of three snow leopards at Woodland Park in May 2000. ISLT provides a vital link between displaying snow leopards in zoos and conserving them in the wild.

New Avian Propagation Building at North Carolina Zoological Park
After two years of planning and one and a half years of construction, the RJ Reynolds Forestry Aviary at the North Carolina Zoo has been overhauled. The major problem with the renovation was what do with the their collection in the interim. With no suitable back-up facility onsite and not wanting to give away their collection, an off-site Avian Propagation Building was constructed to hold their 70-bird, 26-species collection during the renovation. The new propagations building will help promote sustainable captive populations and drastically reduce the need to use wild-caught birds for zoo collections. One of the unique aspects of the project was including the zoo's aviary staff in the design
and building process. The building was designed with a central keeper area and a north and south wing. The north wing contains 22 flight areas and the south wing contains 18. Thirteen species showed various breeding, nesting or nest building behaviors during their stay at the new building. [Adopted from an article by Jeff Claffy, The AFA Watchbird.]


Information for News from Zoos is provided by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association