Conservation - National
a close up of a frog

National Conservation


Chiricahua Leopard Frogs

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.

Significant Highlights

  • More than 1,587 tadpoles from the Zoo have been reintroduced back into the wild over the past five years

  • Zoo staff initiated a research project with Mississippi State University to develop methods for cryopreservation of amphibian semen.

  • Hormone induction protocols to stimulate oogenesis for female CLF were established

  • Captive CLF semen was successfully frozen with post-thaw motility- a first for this species! Semen was then contributed to the National Amphibian Genome Bank for further research

  • Recognized as a 2012 USFWS Wildlife Recovery Champion for efforts on behalf of the species

Louisiana Pine Snake

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.

Significant Highlights

  • Constructed a dedicated Texas Native Wildlife Center for the species
  • Build captive breeding colony via successful reproduction
  • Via partners, bred and released 40 snakes into the wild over the past five years

Virgin Islands Tree Boa

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 captive breeding population for reintroduction.

Significant Highlights

  • Establishment of a USVI Boa Working Group
  • Collected specimines to start a captive breeding program for reintroduction
  • Survey new areas within USVI and identify suitable habitat to establish new population
  • Assist in sample colection for genetic analysis of VI boa populations through their range
  • Produce offspring to reintroduce at a new location in USVI

Puerto Rican Crested Toad

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 PRCT SSP and facilitates in situ monitoring at all six reintroduction sites and reintroduction efforts with allied conservation partners.

Significant Highlights

  • Reintroduced more than 72,902 tadpoles since 1989
  • FWZ staff constructed a new breeding pond at a reintroduction site in southwestern PR
  • MOU established with major partners to implement recovery goals and efficiently manage all sites
  • Assisted with the design and construction of two new wetlands at the last natural breeding pond to mitigate increased salinity and storm surge events
  • Facilitated salinity and density studies to inform the management of both captive and wild populations for recovery efforts
  • Training and support for PR partners to implement mark and recapture program
  • Continued health assessment of wild populations through Bd screening
  • Monitoring at reintroduction sites
  • Standardize management at all sites through development of Standard Operating Procedures for all partners

Puerto Rican Harlequin Butterfly

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. Based on the current gap of status and distribution information of the species, it is essential to conduct a population assessment to evaluate the traditionally occupied and non-traditional habitats of this species. The Zoo is supporting Puerto Rican biologists to evaluate the species throughout its current range and identify factors that are negatively affecting its status.

Significant Highlights

  • Standardized surveys are being implemented throughout the species known range (9 locations)
  • A working group has been established to develop conservation measures for the species and garner support from locals for the recovery of the species
  • A new population of PRHB was documented at Susua Commonwealth Forest
  • Findings from these surveys were used to inform the FWS for Species Status Assessment and potential federal listing
  • DNA was extracted from the species itilizing caterpillar molts to devolp genetic markers for the species
  • Gut content analysis from resident anoles was conducted to determine if they predate upon the PRHB
  • Severe habitat alteration was documented at one site and effects are being monitored
  • A botanist was contracted in 2018 to characterize primary habitat at known sites and identify PRHB host plant and nectar sources

Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project

In 2014, an unidentified coral tissue loss disease was first observed in Miami-Dade County and quickly spread throughout the northern areas of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT). The disease outbreak continued to slowly and persistently progress south of Miami through the Upper and Middle Keys, reaching the Lower Keys by April 2018 and spreading to other areas of the Caribbean. This disease affects more than 25 species (about 55%) of the stony coral species in Florida. In 2019, the Fort Worth Zoo joined with other aquarium members, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), NOAA Fisheries Service, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and the Florida Department of Envirnmental Protection (FDEP) to assemble the Florida Coral Rescue Team to plan and execute the Florida Coral Rescue Plan, to save what is left of Florida's healthy coral stocks. Currently, the Zoo holds and maintains a refuge population of corals from the Florida Reef Tract rescued from Dry Tourtugas.

Significant Highlights: 

  • New species being housed at Fort Worth Zoo as part of global efforts
  • Fort Worth Zoo is helping write the husbandry manual for the care of these unique species of corals