Animal Care Staffers Awarded Grants for Wildlife Conservation Projects Worldwide!

Posted January 29, 2019 by Angela Hatke

The animal care team at the Cincinnati Zoo doesn’t just care for animals at the Zoo – but also their wild counterparts! This year, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Conservation Committee received a record number of proposals reflecting a growing interest by many at the Zoo to do even more for wildlife conservation than they already do in their daily work here. We’re so thankful for such a dedicated and big-hearted Zoo family!

Here are the projects and their zoo staff liaisons who received full or partial funding this year:

Laura Carpenter – Urban Fishing Cat Project (Sri Lanka)

Ryan Dumas – Survey for Rare Graptemys Species and the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) in Northeastern Mississippi

Kim Klosterman – Animal Intensive Care Unit to Assist With Local Raptor Rehabilitation (Raptor Inc., OH)

Steve Malowski  – A Search for Methods to Increase the Reproductive Success of Blue-throated Macaws in the Newly Purchased Reserva Laney Rickman/Bolivia

Jenna Wingate – Conserving a Stronghold Population of Endangered African Wild Dogs in the South-East of Zimbabwe

April Smith – African Manatee Research and Conservation in Senegal

Sarah Swanson – Expanded Study of the Reintroduction of Two Costa Rican Sloth Species (Choloepus hoffmanni and Bradypus variegatus)

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for advancing the Cincinnati Zoo’s conservation mission!

Project Details

Laura with tiger cubs in the Zoo’s nursery

Laura CarpenterUrban Fishing Cat Project (Sri Lanka)

“It is important to me that the Cincinnati Zoo funds the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project because I think it is crucial to support species around that world that call the Cincinnati Zoo home. I have worked with fishing cats for a very long time and find them to be a very charismatic and beautiful cat. The Urban Fishing Cat Project promotes the protection of both fishing cats and their habitat. They also educate the local Sri Lankan community on the significance of conserving the land and protecting one of their flagship species. I feel that the multifaceted approach of the project is a very good way to protect and promote this endangered cat.” – Laura Carpenter

Fishing cat (Photo: Kathy Newton)
Fishing cat

The funds received from the Zoo will be used to purchase two e-obs GPS collars that will track fishing cats for a period of six months. This data will give the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project a clear understanding of how fishing cats move from one urban wetland to the other, how they interact with humans and how these cats are adapting and surviving in a human-dominated landscape. The data will be shared with governmental bodies to come up with an overall strategy to protect Colombo’s urban wetlands with the fishing cat as an ideal ambassador species for this goal.

ryan dumasRyan DumasSurvey for Rare Graptemys Species and the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) in Northeastern Mississippi

“After witnessing it first-hand in 2018, I feel that the conservation work for the Graptemys species and their environment needs more support. These turtle species and their environments mean a lot to me, and the support of this project sends a message that CREW and the Cincinnati Zoo are actively involved in field work, research, and conservation of herpetofauna!” – Ryan Dumas

Funding for this proposal will support two projects in the same focal area: surveys for rare and endangered Graptemys (map turtles and sawbacks) in the upper Tombigbee River system and surveys for Green Salamanders at the periphery of their range in northeastern Mississippi.

In June, Dr. Will Selman of Millsaps College and Duman will meet in northeastern Mississippi to conduct one week of intensive fieldwork for both projects. Project findings will be outlined in a final report to the Zoo, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kim KlostermanAnimal Intensive Care Unit to Assist With Local Raptor Rehabilitation (Raptor Inc., OH)

“I am passionate about wildlife conservation and thrilled to work on avian conservation projects with the Cincinnati Zoo and RAPTOR Inc. I know first-hand the amazing work that both organizations do. Expanding the partnership between the Cincinnati Zoo and RAPTOR Inc. is important to me because it will greatly improve local avian wildlife conservation, fulfill the mission of both organizations and help diversify the zoo’s conservation efforts. The Cincinnati Zoo has had a working relationship with RAPTOR Inc. for decades. The Zoo’s own Gary Denzler was instrumental in RAPTOR Inc.’s formation over 40 years ago and currently serves on their Board of Trustees. I hope to expand the professional partnership between the Zoo and RAPTOR Inc. to increase the conservation impact of both organizations in our community.” – Kim Klosterman

This grant funding will help to purchase an Animal Intensive Care Unit and Dri-Dek Flooring for the unit. Birds are admitted to the raptor center for treatment and are generally in critical condition. Providing supplemental heat to compromised avian patients or young orphaned chicks is critical for their survival. The digital temperature and humidity controls, audio-visual safety alarm, IV line port, supplemental oxygen port and nebulizer bottle found in the Animal Intensive Care Unit will make it possible to give these birds a fighting chance. This project will improve the care we can provide to the birds admitted to the raptor center and reduce the amount of time that birds spend in rehabilitation.

penguin parade
Steve Malowski (second from right) walking in the Zoo’s Penguin Parade

Steve Malowski  – A Search for Methods to Increase the Reproductive Success of Blue-throated Macaws in the Newly Purchased Reserva Laney Rickman/Bolivia

The support of the Cincinnati Zoo is of high importance to help better protect the breeding locations of the critically endangered blue-throated macaw in the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve and to ensure full knowledge of the breeding biology of this majestic bird to prevent this species from going extinct.

To improve their breeding sites and increase the success rate of breeding macaws, we urgently need to evaluate their main threats and stop possible poaching of blue-throated macaw chicks. Occupied nest boxes with camera traps and surveillance of the reserve to capture intruders, as well as monitoring the nest boxes, will all help Armonía to improve their measure to increase the success rate of breeding macaws. As the population is expected to contain only 400 individuals, every chick fledging from the nest boxes is of utmost importance.

Jenna WingateConserving a Stronghold Population of Endangered African Wild Dogs in the South-East of Zimbabwe

The African Wildlife Conservation Fund’s (AWCF) mission of maintaining healthy and viable populations of African wild dogs and other top predators is achieved through a combination of research, conservation, and education. Support from the Cincinnati Zoo continues to be integral to the success of the work being done as the AWCF is reliant on grants and donations. In fact, our contributions the past two years supported the AWCF work that has driven the four-fold increase in the African wild dog population from 36 individuals in 1996 to over 150 individuals in 2018!

“The work done through the Lowveld Wild Dog project is very important for their future survival as they are one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. I will continue to educate zoo visitors about these magnificent creatures and want to continue to proudly share that we support them in the wild by funding grants such as this. Most people coming to the Zoo do not even know what an African painted dog is and I believe it’s our duty to help ensure their future through education and supporting conservation projects like Lowveld Wild Dog project.” – Jenna Wingate

This funding will support aspects of both the AWCF’s hands-on conservation and monitoring of their resident wild dog packs, including motorbike maintenance on the bikes we were able to help purchase in 2018, as well as their community education and outreach work. By keeping their scouts mobile in the field, it helps to continue to support anti-poaching efforts to mitigate the threat from snaring, removing snares from wild dogs, treating wounds, and continuing to monitor African wild dog populations.

April SmithAfrican Manatee Research and Conservation in Senegal

For nearly two decades the Cincinnati Zoo has been committed to helping save Florida manatees through its continued participation in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership.

“At a time when zoos are under scrutiny, relatable conservation projects provide an opportunity to educate the public on the important contributions zoos make towards wildlife conservation and the positive impacts this support can have on endangered and threatened species. This funding will help us take our commitment to manatee conservation a step further, support the conservation efforts of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund through its African Manatee and Conservation Project, and raise awareness for the most elusive and endangered manatee species in the world.” – April Smith

The African manatee is the most endangered and least studied marine mammal in the world, as well as the least studied large mammal in Africa. Protection and conservation efforts for the African manatee would benefit a range of other marine species that inhabit aquatic and nearshore habitats.

This project will greatly increase knowledge of the African manatee in Senegal, and it will result in increased conservation activities for the species.

Sarah SwansonExpanded Study of the Reintroduction of Two Costa Rican Sloth Species (Choloepus hoffmanni and Bradypus variegatus)

Since 2014, the Cincinnati Zoo has supported The Sloth Institute (TSI) and their mission in Costa Rica. The Cincinnati Zoo is dedicated to its resident sloth, Moe, and a brand new, expanded habitat is currently being made for him. Many of the details and features in his new habitat are based on the knowledge we have gained from our time spent in Costa Rica and the work TSI is doing.

Since supporting TSI through the Zoo’s Conservation Fund grants in 2016 & 2017, we were able to purchase necessary VHF tracking equipment for locating our study animals. This year, the funds will be used for the continuation of this project with an increased scope on overall reintroduction goals. Together we are improving the process of sloth rescue, rehabilitation, and release in Costa Rica.