For the past 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 British Virgin Island’s National Parks Trust. Activities have included applied ecological research, public education and awareness, local capacity building, monitoring of feral mammals and the reintroduction of 210 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.
- Construction and facilitation of the in situ headstart facility and captive breeding program
- Annual reintroduction of headstarted iguanas resulting in more than 260 animals released to the wild
- Development of an island-wide camera trapping program to monitor the distribution, abundance and habitat use of repatriated iguanas and invasive mammals
- Development and implementation of an annual iguana festival to educate local residents and increase public awareness and ownership of the species
- Local capacity and student training have resulted in more than 150 students from 35 colleges and universities participating in the recovery program and learning field research methods
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 at the Vesty Pakos Zoo in La Paz. The development of a hand-reared population not only serves as a hedge against extinction, but also to educate Bolivians about their natural fauna.
- Artificial incubation and hand-rearing program initiated at Vesty Pakos Zoo; ten flamingo chicks reared to date
- Annual flamingo banding program initiated to monitor population trends and natural history
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. It is now restricted to a very small portion of the Hellshire Hills in the Portland Bight Protected Area. Interventions such as protecting nest sites, headstarting, and invasive mammal control have led to an increase in the population over time. The Fort Worth Zoo has been involved with the Jamaican Iguana conservation program since 1991 and actively spearheading field activities for the past three years.
- Reintroduction of 468 iguanas into the wild since the beginning of the program, with record breaking numbers in the last years
- Annual pre-release health screens at the iguana headstart facility at the Hope Zoo, led by Fort Worth Zoo staff
- Development of educational materials focused on the local Jamaican audience
- Research studies documenting post-release iguana behavior and survival, behavior of invasive predators, impact of iguanas in the ecosystem, and the impact of gut passage on plant germination rates and percentages
- Involvement in the potential reintroduction of iguanas and other endemic species to the Goat Islands
- Trialing of novel feral mammal monitoring techniques
- Improvement in captive husbandry, cage space and increase in specimen numbers at the Hope Zoo annually
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 manages the captive 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.
- Facilitated a strategic planning session for the species in Panama with conservation partners at the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center
- Facilitated a Health and Husbandry meeting for EVACC with veterinary advisors that outlined areas of focus for research and changes to improve overall health of amphibians within US and Panama collections
- Continue to support the regional education activities, including the annual Golden Frog Day/Festival outreach events
The Roatan Spiny-tailed Iguana is endemic to the small island of Roatan, Honduras. Their densities are decreasing due to over-exploitation, and on-going population monitoring and local advocacy are vital to its conservation. The Fort Worth Zoo has been monitoring this species in Roatan for more than three years and collecting data to create the first life-history model for the species and further the genus. 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.
- Long-term mark-recapture study to document life history and track population trends
- Development of a regional iguana workshop to train the next generation of conservation leaders from iguana range countries throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America
- Training of students and managers from over 15 countries, all of whom have remained or become active in local conservation efforts in their home countries
- The workshops include an IUCN Redlisting event which has resulted in three published Redlist updates to date
The Turks and Caicos iguana, Cyclura carinata, 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. However suitable islands for translocation are scarce and intra-island translocation strategies that complement human needs must be found. Zoo staff conducted a project that documented post intra-island translocation stress and homing on Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands by systematically manipulating the sex, age, and time of year moved for 96 subject animals.
- First systematic test of homing abilities in a Cyclura species
- Documentation of post intra-island translocation stress and homing behavior of 96 adult and juvenile iguanas
- Rapid surveys for iguanas, other reptiles and invasive vertebrates on Little Water Cay, Big Ambergris Cay and at least 10 other surrounding offshore islands