Two of the most prestigious zoological parks in the Midwest have some exciting updates to share for this inaugural edition of Zoo Conservation Notes.
Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo announced the release of an endangered Mexican gray wolf at a USFWS refuge in New Mexico last Saturday that was previously held at the suburban Chicago zoo. The wolf, named Ernesta, will increase the overall number of Mexican gray wolves in the world and the genetic diversity of the population in the wild.
There are almost five times as many individuals of this endangered species in captivity as there are in the wild with under 70 free-ranging wolves in New Mexico and Arizona and 283 living in 52 US captive wildlife facilities. Ernesta will be paired with a mate, and the two will be conditioned and acclimated to the wild through a soft-release program.
For more news on Mexican gray wolf conservation at the Brookfield Zoo, please read my earlier posts.
For the second time, the St. Louis Zoo has successfully bred an endangered salamander—the Ozark hellbender. This historic event marks the second time that the species has ever been propagated in a captive facility. The Zoo has set up simulated streams to encourage reproductive activity. Eight females laid a total of 2809 eggs. Two hundred and fourteen larvae have already hatched.
“The significance of today’s announcement is that for the first time, all three of the Zoo’s river populations reproduced, including hellbenders bred from a population in a habitat that has been maintained indoors for the past eight years—the Zoo’s simulated White River North Fork stream,” said Jeff Ettling, Curator of Herpetology & Aquatics and Director of the Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation.
With only 600 Ozark hellbenders in the wild, this is another significant contribution to wildlife conservation from the captive front. For more information on Ozark hellbender conservation at the St. Louis Zoo, please read my earlier posts.