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A Pennsylvania wood turtle is held by a keeper during a survey of the local population.

Conservation in Action

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Philadelphia Zoo keeper staff partner with theTurtleRoom to survey local populations of wood turtles in Pennsylvania.
Staff members of Zoo Amaru, a conservation partner of Philadelphia Zoo, stand in front of their branded banner.

Zoo Amaru

Since 2010, Philadelphia Zoo has worked with Zoo Amaru to protect several species of threatened frogs native to Ecuador. Zoo Amaru staff partnered with us to establish a multi-faceted amphibian conservation program that includes long-term populations monitoring, education, and establishment of the Amphibian Conservation Center at Zoo Amaru. This Center is an in-country breeding facility for critically endangered Ecuadorian amphibians. In addition to amphibians, Zoo Amaru works with all threatened native wildlife, and notably provides significant support to Andean bear conservation efforts. Our relationship with Zoo Amaru is so intertwined that their staff wear shirts with both the Zoo Amaru and Philadelphia Zoo logos on them.

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Save the Golden Lion Tamarin

Since 1992, Philadelphia Zoo has played an integral role in the conservation efforts for one of the world’s most threatened primates, the golden lion tamarin (GLT), by collaborating with Brazil-based AMLD and US-based SGLT. In the 1970s there were fewer than 200 individuals living in the wild. For over 30 years, we have worked with other zoos to breed tamarins and release them into the wild, contributed funding to purchase land and increase tamarin habitat, and inspired innovative solutions to their fragmented habitat. Wildlife bridges are an important part of GLT conservation, as they help connect fragmented pieces of habitat that the tamarins need to survive. Philadelphia Zoo’s Zoo360 trails inspired the design of some of these bridges. All of these efforts have proven helpful, and there are now over 2500 golden lion tamarins living in the wild, almost 75% of which are descended from tamarins that once lived in zoos.

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New Nature Foundation

While Philadelphia Zoo has been officially supporting the New Nature Foundation since 2020, our connections to this organization go back much further. Michael Stern, one of the founders of NNF and current Philadelphia Zoo Curator of Primates and Small Mammals, grew up near Philadelphia and began volunteering at the Zoo when he was 13 years old. The New Nature Foundation strives to conserve wild animals and wild places through education, empowerment, and an emphasis on creative solutions that promote people living in harmony with nature. Their current work focuses on Kibale National Park in western Uganda, where over 350 different species live. A major part of their work is to teach the local people how to build and use efficient stoves that require far less firewood than traditional cooking methods, which reduces the need for deforestation.

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Rodrigues Fruit Bat

Rodrigues Environmental Education Program

In the 1970s, there were fewer than 100 Rodrigues fruit bats left in the world. In the 1990s, Philadelphia Zoo worked with the island of Rodrigues to create the Rodrigues Environmental Education Program, which aims to educated people living on the island about the bats and encourage them to take steps to preserve them. Each year, REEP conducts hundreds of classes and volunteer activities, including an island-wide bat count. The number of bats is now over 20,000 in the wild and several additional populations living in zoos around the world. Here in Philadelphia, we currently house more bats in our colony than once existed worldwide.

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Council of Contributors

Our newest partner, which we began supporting in 2022, has been working to protect rhinos in South Africa since 2017. They are a small, dedicated team who supports various conservation initiatives on the front line of the poaching crisis. They focus on harnessing the power of collective work to save rhinos from extinction. One aspect of the project involves anti-poaching K9 units who help their human companions find rhinos, poachers, and illegally harvest rhino horn. Philadelphia Zoo is currently working on expanding our relationship with CoC after a recent site visit from our VP of Animal Well-Being, Rachel Metz.

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Why Your Support Matters

In addition to housing endangered animals—some extinct in the wild—and supporting conservation efforts around the world, Philadelphia Zoo helps create empathy and understanding for wildlife through programs like the UNLESS Contest, which has inspired tens of thousands of students over the past decade to learn about and create advocacy campaigns to make a lasting impact on an endangered species of their choosing. To date, the UNLESS Contest has resulted in hundreds of trees planted in Brazil, thousands of signatures in support of a wildlife bridge, and dollars raised to support our partners in the field.

Your gift to Philadelphia Zoo makes programs like these possible and supports animals here and around the world.

Support Our Conservation Efforts