Conservation Projects Texas
a close up of a frog

Texas Conservation

Texas





 

Houston Toad

The Fort Worth Zoo manages an assurance population of Houston toads that breed yearly, resulting in offspring that are used for reintroduction efforts. In the past 5 years, the Zoo has repatriated more than 22,890 tadpoles in Bastrop County via our partners. The Zoo is only one of two facilities breeding this species in captivity and it is believed there are less than 200 toads left in the wild.


Significant Achievements

  • Zoo staff attended the first signing of a Safe Harbor agreement executed for this species on private land
  • Constructed the Texas Native Amphibian Center, a dedicated conservation facility which increased the Zoo’s capacity to breed more Houston toads for reintroduction efforts
  • The Zoo is one of two zoos that manages a rescue population of Houston toads for reintroduction
  • Via partners, the Zoo has released more than 22,890 toads into the wild
  • In collaboration with Mississippi State University, Zoo staff successfully froze Houston toad semen with good post-thaw motility- a first for this species

Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Habitat

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. Two new prairie restoration sites were seeded in the main parking lot of the Zoo along with final seeding and privet removal at the original prairie restoration site on the Trinity River. Temporary educational signage was placed at the sites to be replaced by permanent signage in 2020.


Significant Highlights

  • Seeded final section of restoration area on the Trinity River as well as new seeding in at least five areas adjacent to and within the Zoo
  • Collaborated with City of Fort Worth Parks and Recreation Department to remove invasive Japanese Privet from prairie restoration area on the Trinity River
  • Integrated project objectives and technology (e.g. ArcGIS) into formal educational offerings at the Zoo
  • Ongoing monitoring of milkweed abundance on the Trinity River
  • Active participation in Fort Worth Pollinator Ambassador Group
  • Monarch monitoring project has resulted in more than 50 tagged monarchs to date
  • Three pollinator gardens are maintained at the Zoo

Pecos Pupfish

After consecutive years of drought and hybridization, Pecos pupfish have declined in many regions. A refugia population is maintained at the Fort Worth Zoo at the request of TPWD. The FWZ 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.


Significant Highlights

  • Historically, the Fort Worth Zoo is one of the first zoos to maintain and breed this species in captivity
  • FWZ staff assisted in recent emergency rescue efforts during drought events
  • Distributed offspring from FWZ to SeaWorld, San Antonio and Cameron Park Zoo to expand captive breeding efforts

Texas Freshwater Mussel

The Fort Worth Zoo is in the process developing a mussel holding and host-fish testing facility to assist in future efforts focused on investigating the reproductive biology of threatened mussel species such as T. macrodon and to provide a resource for education and public outreach. The FWZ 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 three Texas native species of mussels and appropriate host fish.


Significant Highlights

  • FWZ staff attended the Mussel Conservation Summit in Austin, TX
  • Acquired 12 Yellow sandshell mussels to acclimate systems prior to receiving threatened species
  • Along with partners from TAMU, received USFWS Sec 6 funding to implement conservation program for threatened Truncilla species of mussels

Texas Horned Lizard

The Fort Worth Zoo (FWZ) is working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and private landowners to evaluate the feasibility and scientific methods used to reintroduce captive-hatched Texas horned lizards into formerly occupied habits 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 Fort Worth Zoo reintroduced 322 captive hatched horned lizards the past five years and conducted health assessments for over 200 horned lizards used for translocation.


Significant Highlights

  • Formed the Texas Horned Lizard Conservation Coalition and host biennial meetings with TPWD, fostering information exchange, research collaboration and new partnerships
  • FWZ was the first zoo to successfully breed Texas horned lizards and is the only institution to maintain a large breeding group, producing large numbers of offspring annually
  • Reintroduced 322 Texas horned lizards into the wild since 2011
  • Conducting a state-wide health evaluation and pathogen screen of free-ranging horned lizards to establish base-line health data, understand prevalent pathogens, and assess health prior to translocation/reintroduction
  • • Received $10,000 in grant funds from Texas Parks & Wildlife for a large walk-in cooler to hibernate horned lizards and increase capacity to produce juveniles for reintroduction

Texas Kangaroo Rat

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. Due to the Zoo’s previous success with related species, it is anticipated that the Texas kangaroo rat should breed readily, and offspring can be reared and maintained in captivity. 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.


Significant Highlights
• Construction of the Texas Native Wildlife Center to house kangaroo rats
• Acquisition of six breeding pairs of rats from the wild