Both children and adults of all ages delight in a trip to the zoo. Observing wildlife sparks an appreciation for animals, many of whom are threatened or endangered. What you might not know is that many zoos, including our own Roger Williams Park Zoo (RWPZ), are also committed to protecting animals in their natural habitat. One way the staff carries out its conservation work is through hands-on projects in sites across Rhode Island and beyond.
Over two decades ago RWPZ joined the American Burying Beetle Repopulation Project and quickly became the sole breeding facility for this insect, an important invertebrate known as “nature’s recycler” and the recently designated RI state insect. RWPZ brought the beetle back from the brink of extinction and now serves as the national headquarters for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this species.
Conservationists estimate that up to one half of all amphibian species face possible extinction. As a participant in the FrogWatch USA program, RWPZ trains volunteers each year to participate in frog monitoring across the state. The data collected by these “citizen scientists” contribute greatly to the conservation of potentially threatened amphibian species.
By providing facilities, supplies, and expertise, RWPZ is helping to maintain and reproduce a genetically diverse captive population of New England cottontail rabbits for reintroduction into select sites in the New England area.
Lou Perrotti, RWPZ’s Director of Conservation Programs, will present these conservation projects and others on Thursday, October 27 at the Barn. We will start with a potluck dinner at 6pm and the program will begin at 7pm.