The Zoo is participating in an ongoing coral rescue and conservation project.
Corals are individual invertebrate polyps that grow to form large colonies called reefs that serve as important habitat for many species of marine life and protect shorelines from potentially damaging waves (especially during powerful storms and hurricanes). Although they are a necessary part of the world’s biodiversity, these living animals are in decline. Research shows that 20 percent of the world’s reefs have been destroyed and the reefs in our own backyard are not exempt from this trend.
The Florida Reef Tract is a reef community that stretches 360 miles along the coast that makes up the largest barrier reef in the continental United States. It is on the brink of extinction due to an unidentified disease. Together with scientists and other zoos and aquariums, coral experts are working together to save healthy coral species ahead of the spreading disease with the hope of returning corals back to the reef once the disease outbreak passes. To help, the Fort Worth Zoo is now home to 30 high-priority species of hard corals as part of the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project. While the Zoo and other facilities are housing the colonies of healthy corals, researchers and scientists try to better understand the disease, how it is transmitted, how to treat corals affected by it, and how future outbreaks can be managed. Although these special corals are maintained under specialized conditions behind the scenes, you can visit other coral species in the Great Barrier Reef exhibit to experience these unique animals.