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.

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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.


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

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Malayan Tiger Cubs at Busch Gardens

Malayan tiger cub at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa welcomed three Malayan tiger cubs on March 31st. There were two males and one female, each weighing around 6 pounds.

These births were part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. Malayan tiger births are rare in captive breeding programs. There was only one successful birth in 2012, and this is the first Malayan tiger birth at Busch Gardens Tampa. The animal care team is monitoring the cubs and parents around the clock.

Malayan tiger cub at Busch Gardens

According to the IUCN Redlist, Malayan tigers are considered endangered in the wild. There are only 500 Malayan tigers living in their native habitat, which is the southern tip of Thailand and the Malay Peninsula. Threats include habitat fragmentation and poaching.

To learn more about the Malayan tiger cubs, see BuschGardensTampaBlog.com.

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Baby Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys

Watch a video of baby golden snub-nosed monkeys and their mothers in the Panda Valley of the Guanyinshan National Nature Reserve in China.

In the wild, golden snub-nosed monkeys inhabit the temperate, mountainous forests in central China. They are considered endangered by the IUCN Redlist due to forest loss.

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Baby White Rhinoceros at Busch Gardens

Baby white rhino at Busch Gardens

A rare white rhino was born at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay welcomed a female baby white rhinoceros on Tuesday, October 23, 2012. The baby is the second calf born to mother Kisiri and the seventh calf born to father Tambo. Busch Gardens has celebrated a total of seven white rhino births since October 2004. The new baby weighed an estimated 140 pounds at birth. The newborn – who has yet to be named – will gain approximately four pounds each day until it reaches an adult weight of approximately 3,500 to 4,000 pounds.

Baby white rhino

Busch Gardens participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) to ensure genetic diversification among threatened and endangered animals in zoological facilities. The birth brings the total white and black rhino population at the adventure park to eight.

Kisiri, Tambo and another female white rhino were airlifted from Kruger National Park in South Africa in 2001 through the efforts of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of rhinos. Fewer than 15,000 white rhinos remain in the wild, and approximately 200 live in zoological facilities across North America.

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Tiger Summit Discusses the Future of Wild Tigers

Politicians and wildlife conservation organizations are currently convening to discuss the dire state of wild tiger populations.  Experts have concluded that only 3,200 tigers are left in the wild.  This is a stark contrast to the 100,000 tigers that once roamed the world a century ago.  Participants of the tiger summit are proposing plans to double tiger populations by the year 2022, which is the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.

The plan includes measures to:

  • Cut down on poaching, smuggling, and illegal trade of tigers and their body parts
  • Conserve tiger habitat, including their breeding grounds
  • Create incentives for local communities to become part of the tiger conservation effort

To ensure success and bolster tiger populations, the 13 countries that still have tigers would have to raise $350 million dollars for the first 5 years of the plan, and they would would need the cooperation and support of international organizations and other governments.

Amur tiger on the prowl.

Can the tiger summit save wild tigers?

To learn more about the tiger summit, visit: Bloomberg News.

For information about the Siberian or Amur tiger, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: Siberian Tiger.

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The Race to Save Javan Rhinos is On

There are only 48 Javan rhinos left in the world. For conservationists and animal lovers that is a frightening number. Conservationists are afraid that a single natural disaster or the introduction of a disease to their home on the island of Java could wipe out the species forever.

To try to prevent this a safe haven is being created in the Ujung Kulon National Park on the island. The International Rhino Foundation and its partners are creating 9,884 acres of expanded habitat. The foundation has raised more than half of the 650,000 dollars needed for the effort, but another 300,000 still needs to be raised.

The 300,000 still needed will go toward planting food for the rhinos, constructing wallows, create water sources, build patrol routes and guard towers, and hire guards to keep poachers away.

If you’d like to help or learn more about the Javan rhino, visit The International Rhino Foundation.

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Live Tiger Found in Suitcase

Airport staff in Thailand found a live tiger cub packed into a suitcase filled with stuffed animals. The staff noticed what looked like a live cat when x-raying the suitcase. When they opened the suitcase to investigate they found the two-month-old cub. The cub had been sedated.

For the whole story, visit CNN.com.

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Kiwi Born at National Zoo

On June 15 the National Zoo welcomed its second baby kiwi since March. The chicks are both female and doing well. The zoo has set up a camera to observe the new chick via the internet. You can watch it here; the best time see the chick is in the evening as kiwi are nocturnal.

Kiwi are native to New Zealand. There are five species, all of which are endangered. The main threats to kiwi are habitat loss and invasive mammals.

Fun fact: The kiwi lays the largest egg in relation to its body size of any species of bird.

For more, visit the National Zoo website.

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