The Fort Worth Zoo's impact on saving species reaches far beyond the Zoo's 64 acres. The Zoo is actively engaged in conservation work in more than 30 countries around the world. This includes dedication of resources, dollars and time. In several of these efforts, Zoo staff are involved on a grassroots level making advancements for many endangered and critically endangered species. Boots-on-the-ground projects are listed below.
USFWS Endangered, ICUN Critically Endangered
Reintroduction, Captive Headstart, Conservation Education
For more than 20 years, the Fort Worth Zoo has worked to spearhead a recovery program for the critically endangered Anegada iguana with its in-country partner, the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands. Activities have included applied ecological research, public education and awareness, local capacity building, monitoring of feral mammals and the reintroduction of 285 iguanas back to the wild. One of the Fort Worth Zoo’s conservation biologists is on island nearly 4 months every year locating iguana nests, relocating hatchlings, reintroducing and monitoring headstarted iguanas, training students and holding an annual community-wide Iguana Fest.
USFWS Endangered, IUCN Critically Endangered
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction, Conservation Education
Indigenous peoples in Bolivia are given permission to collect flamingo eggs for consumption as part of their native rights. These peoples are only interested in the eggs which have not yet developed, which leaves significant numbers of fertile eggs discarded that could otherwise be collected for artificial incubation in partnership with the Zoo at the Vesty Pakos Zoo. The development of a hand-reared population not only serves as a hedge against extinction, but also to educate Bolivians about their natural fauna. To date, a total of nin James flamingo anf one endangered Andean Flamingo chicks have hatched and hand-reared, the Fort Worth Zoo spnsored flamingo banding at Laguna Colorada in which 450 chicks were banded, and the Zoo supporeted the prgram via personnel to band an additional 70 chicks and provided finacial support to help purchase a new vehicle for field activites in the future.
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction, Research, Capacity Building
The Jamaican iguana is endemic to the island of Jamaica. Historically, this species likely occurred along most of the island’s southeastern coastal dry forest belt, however, habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals caused the extirpation of the species from most of its range. Interventions such as protecting nest sites, headstarting, and invasive mammal control have led to an increase in the population. The Fort Worth Zoo has been involved with the Jamaican Iguana conservation program since 1993.
Culturally important in Panama since the pre-Colombian era, the Panamanian golden frog is now most likely extinct in the wild due to the amphibian chytrid fungus. The Zoo’s assistant curator of ectotherms oversees the managed population of golden frogs in AZA facilities and related research programs in the United States and Canada, in addition to advising on golden frog husbandry and programs within Panama.
Research, Conservation Education
The Roatan spiny-tailed iguana is endemic to the small island of Roatan, Honduras. Their densities are decreasing due to over-exploitation. The Fort Worth Zoo has been monitoring this species in Roatan for more than four years. In addition, iguana workshops have been developed to train regional biologists from iguana range countries in capture, processing, marking, DNA sample collection, survey techniques, physiological lab work, and data input and analysis through a combination of lectures and hands-on experiences.
USFWS Threatened, IUCN Endangered
The Turks and Caicos iguana is critically endangered due to introduced mammals and habitat alteration from human development. Inter-island translocations are a key conservation strategy for the species and have been successful to date. Zoo staff conducted a project that documented post intra-island translocation stress and moved 96 animals. The results indicated that homing was perceived as stressful to the iguanas; however, animals demonstrated the ability to mount appropriate stress responses throughout the project. Findings from this project will be utilized to develop translocation methods that promote iguana-friendly development throughout the Caribbean.
USFWS Threatened, IUCN Vulnerable
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction, Research
The Fort Worth Zoo manages an assurance population of Chiricahua leopard frogs from several localities that are utilized for reintroduction efforts in New Mexico in collaboration with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The Fort Worth Zoo is one of only two zoos working with this species in North America.
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction
The Louisiana pine snake (LPS) is one of the rarest snakes in North America. It has recently been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and the last known population of LPS is most likely extirpated in Texas. As part of the recovery program, the Fort Worth Zoo manages a large breeding group of snakes for reintroduction. All Louisiana pine snakes in captivity are being consolidated into four breeding centers and the FWZ was chosen as one of those facilities due to our years of experience and breeding success with the taxa. Zoo staff actively participates in annual stakeholder meetings and constructed a dedicated conservation center for pine snakes aided by the United States Forest Service.
USFWS Endangered, IUCN Endangered
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction Potential
The Fort Worth Zoo has partnered with the North Carolina Zoo, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources to survey known populations of the endangered Virgin Islands tree boa. In addition, specimens will be collected from the wild to start a managed breeding population for reintroduction.
USFWS Threatened, IUCN Critically Endangered
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction, Conservation Leadership
As the coordinator for the recovery program, the Fort Worth Zoo has sent Puerto Rican Crested Toad (PRCT) tadpoles to Puerto Rico as part of the continued reintroduction program since 1989. The Zoo manages and breeds Puerto Rican crested toads for recovery efforts in addition to facilitating research in situ and ex situ. The Zoo’s curator of ectotherms manages the cooperative breeding program for the species and facilitates in situ monitoring at all six reintroduction sites and reintroduction efforts with allied conservation partners.
USFWS Candidate Species
The Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly (PRHB) is a rare species of butterfly endemic to Puerto Rico and is one of the four species endemic to the Greater Antilles. It is a candidate for federal listing due to its rare occurrence within small, isolated areas on the island. The Zoo is supporting Puerto Rican biologists to evaluate the species throughout its current range and identify factors that are negatively affecting its status.
The Zoo joined a coalition of North American zoos and aquariums to house an assurance colony of Florida Reef Tract corals. The corals in this stretch of the gulf of Mexico are threwtened and disappearing at an alarming rate after an unidentified disease was fist observed in 2014. The Zoo is managing 30 distinct corals until they can be returned to their native range.
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction, Research Summary
The Fort Worth Zoo manages an assurance population of Houston toads that breed yearly, resulting in offspring that are used for reintroduction efforts. The Zoo has repatriated more than 113,702 tadpoles in Bastrop County. The Zoo is one of four facilities breeding this species in human care and it is believed there are less than 200 toads left in the wild.
USFWS Under Review
Research, Conservation Awareness
Monarch butterflies are declining at an alarming rate. The Fort Worth Zoo continues to monitor and plant host plants to aid monarchs during their migrations through north Texas. Prairie restoration sites in the main parking lot of the Zoo were expanded and two new locations were seeded at the original prairie restoration site on the Trinity River. Permanent education signage is located at both sites.
After consecutive years of drought and hybridization, Pecos pupfish have declined in many regions. A assurance population is maintained at the Fort Worth Zoo at the request of TPWD. The Zoo has historically bred this species for many years and once water levels in the wild return to normal and hybrids are removed by state biologists, plans are to repatriate this species using offspring produced at the Zoo.
The Fort Worth Zoo has developed a mussel holding and host-fish testing facility to assist in investigating the reproductive biology of threatened mussel species and to provide a resource for education and public outreach. The Zoo will aid in establishing husbandry parameters and fish host trials along with partners from Texas A&M AgriLife Dallas Center. A dedicated mussel room has been outfitted to house up to five Texas native species of mussels.
IUCN Least Concern
Captive Breeding, Reintroduction, Research, Conservation Leadership
The Fort Worth Zoo is working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and private landowners to evaluate the feasibility and scientific methods used to reintroduce Texas horned lizards born at the Zoo into formerly occupied habitats of north Texas. Methodology developed from this study is being applied to state-wide recovery efforts for the species and can also be used as a standard for future recovery efforts for the other twelve species of horned lizards that reside in the United States and Mexico. The Zoo reintroduced 693 horned lizards and conducted health assessments for more than 200 horned lizards used for translocation.
USFWS Under Review, IUCN Vulnerable
Captive Breeding, Potential Reintroduction
The Zoo is working with partners to develop breeding and husbandry protocols for the species by establishing an assurance colony in the Zoo’s new Texas Native Wildlife Center. The Fort Worth Zoo was the first-ever to breed Texas kangaroo rats. This offers the potential to quickly grow a population for research and reintroduction efforts. Partial building funds were provided through a USFWS Section 6 grant awarded to partners from Texas State University.
As a result of our tremendously successful breeding programs, the Zoo is able to release animals from numerous species back into the wild. Each release represents a major achievement in conservation efforts locally and abroad.
Louisiana pine snake