Changing Planet

Zoo Conservation Notes—November 2012 Edition

Two of the most prestigious zoological parks in the Midwest have some exciting updates to share for this inaugural edition of Zoo Conservation Notes.

Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo announced the release of an endangered Mexican gray wolf at a USFWS refuge in New Mexico last Saturday that was previously held at the suburban Chicago zoo.  The wolf, named Ernesta, will increase the overall number of Mexican gray wolves in the world and the genetic diversity of the population in the wild.

There are almost five times as many individuals of this endangered species in captivity as there are in the wild with under 70 free-ranging wolves in New Mexico and Arizona and 283 living in 52 US captive wildlife facilities. Ernesta will be paired with a mate, and the two will be conditioned and acclimated to the wild through a soft-release program.

For more news on Mexican gray wolf conservation at the Brookfield Zoo, please read my earlier posts.

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For the second time, the St. Louis Zoo has successfully bred an endangered salamander—the Ozark hellbender. This historic event marks the second time that the species has ever been propagated in a captive facility.  The Zoo has set up simulated streams to encourage reproductive activity. Eight females laid a total of 2809 eggs. Two hundred and fourteen larvae have already hatched.

“The significance of today’s announcement is that for the first time, all three of the Zoo’s river populations reproduced, including hellbenders bred from a population in a habitat that has been maintained indoors for the past eight years—the Zoo’s simulated White River North Fork stream,” said Jeff Ettling, Curator of Herpetology & Aquatics and Director of the Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation.

With only 600 Ozark hellbenders in the wild, this is another significant contribution to wildlife conservation from the captive front. For more information on Ozark hellbender conservation at the St. Louis Zoo, please read my earlier posts.



With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email:
  • Dustin Munro

    Since the zoo has bread the unbreadable(previously no zoo successfully bread before-only took eggs from wild to hatch)Ozark hellbender and another zoo is attempting to use the same method to breed the Eastern hellbender-Lets use this method with a tropical habit simulation for another currently unbreakable species:the african Goliath Frog.It is currently only raised by capture or egg collecting from wild populations and has not yet been captive bread.They require moving water too and are severely endangered in the wild and need to be captive bread along with protection in the wild too like the Hellbenders.For more information on the Goliath Frog and habitat which can help for habitat simulation and wild diet to stimulate captive breeding,here is a wikipedia article:
    Goliath frog – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The goliath frog (Conraua goliath) is the largest extant anuran on Earth. The largest known specimens can grow up to 33 cm (13 in) in length from snout to vent, …
    Description – Habitat and distribution – Ecology and behavior – Conservation

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