San Antonio – The San Antonio Zoo isn’t just a place to go to see animals; behind the scenes, zoo workers are doing research that could potentially save at-risk or endangered species across the world.
The Center for Conservation and Research at San Antonio has over a dozen active programs for different species.
“Our work, and those of other zoos and aquariums, may well be the only significant efforts keeping certain species and habitats in place,” vice president of the Center for Conservation and Research, Dr. Danté Fenolio said. “Efforts include the development of captive breeding protocols in our labs, reintroductions onto the landscape of captive produced animals, and projects designed to protect whole ecosystems.”
Some of those projects include breeding certain species and reintroducing them into the wild.
Right now, five species are being bred and up to four others are a work in progress.
Here’s a closer look at the five species being bred right now:
Georgia Blind Salamanders & Dougherty Plain Cave Crayfish: These two species are part of a collection together and they both exist in groundwater. The quality of their habitats is declining. The goals are to breed them before it gets critically necessary to do so.
Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders: This species is critically endangered and usually habitats a handful of locations in the southeastern United States. This breeding program started in 2004 and the goal is to potentially supplement their declining populations.
Texas Blind Salamanders: This is an endangered species that inhabit the Edwards Aquifer. This project began in 2014 in partnership with the Edwards Aquifer Authority. This species is not only being bred but a population genetic study is being done as well.
Texas Horned Lizards: This project has had a successful year after two batches of Texas Horned Lizards hatched. The program now has enough young lizards to conduct their first release into the wild this fall. Also, known as horny toads the populations of this species have declined but are not listed as endangered.
The other species that the Center for Conservation and Research is trying to breed include Mexican Blind Catfish, Ozark Cavefish, endangered Texas Spring Salamanders and the endangered Chilean frog.
You can take a closer look at all the current projects taking place at the zoo’s website.