Cincinnati Zoo Keepers Awarded Conservation Grants to Save Wildlife

Posted April 21, 2023 by Angela Hatke

Every year, Zoo employees are invited to submit requests for a specific conservation project to be funded. This year, the Zoo’s Conservation Committee received many proposals and selected five.

Laura Carpenter: Begawan Foundation’s Community-Based Conservation for Bali Starling Breeding and Release Program (Indonesia)

Cincinnati Zoo not only strives to provide the best care for its animals in Cincinnati but also supports its wild counterparts all over the world through in-situ and ex-situ conservation projects. The Bali Starling is one of the critically endangered bird species we are lucky enough to see here every day. The Begawan Foundation has created an Open Learning Community in Melinggih Kelod Village, Bali, Indonesia that organizes community-based programs.

Ryan Dumas- Home Range Ecology and Migratory Patterns of Mangrove Diamond-Backed Terrapins in Southwestern Florida (USA)

Of the 360 extant species, as many as 161 are listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and 51 of those species are listed as critically endangered. The opportunity to gather vital natural history information on these chelonians is waning. For many species, we have yet to understand how they interact with the ecosystem they inhabit. The Diamond-backed Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)and its subspecies are listed as vulnerable with a steadily decreasing population, including a continuing decline in mature individuals. They are a subspecies of great conservation need and Professor Jordan Donini has proven to be an incredible researcher and ambassador for our chelonians. The previous grants procured have allowed for 15 dedicated students to participate in conservation directly, and learn new valuable techniques that may have otherwise not been possible without the funds given for equipment.

Cody Sowers In Situ Rescue and Rehabilitation of Wild Native Aquatic Birds (USA)

As a keeper there are many opportunities to get involved on multiple levels; in the field, TAGs and SSPs, behind-the-scenes tours and donations, etc. The CREW Internal Conservation grant is one of the most impactful ways for keepers to become involved, all the while supporting organizations that they feel are important. The International Bird Rescue is one of those organizations for me. Whether they are responding to oil spills, rescuing over 3000 near-threatened Elegant Tern chicks due to a drone crash, or dealing with their typical day-to-day caseload, the IBR is doing a fantastic job of mitigating human impact with these amazing native seabirds. Many of which we either have or have housed here at the Cincinnati Zoo over our long and storied history. This grant will allow us to continue to support this great organization and continue to grow our relationship with them. This grant will assist in their ongoing, daily in situ efforts to mitigate human impact on wildlife native to the Pacific Flyway through our Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation program. At their two Wildlife Centers, IBR rescues and rehabilitates an average of 3,500 native aquatic birds each year (over 100 different species), and releases them back into the wild.

Victoria McGee & Bailey Cadena- Conservation Education for the Protection of Bonobos, Pan paniscus, in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Bonobos are a captivating species rarely seen in zoos within the United States; as the only matriarchal great ape, bonobos showcase a unique behavioral repertoire. This species shows how behaviors based on love, affiliation, and social support can serve everyone within the troop. As one of seven AZA institutions to have bonobos, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has the unique opportunity to cultivate awareness for this endangered great ape. In doing so, we not only teach the public about an engaging primate relative but also about the plight of wild populations. Supporting Friends of Bonobos connects our institution’s care and outreach to the in-situ efforts to conserve wild counterparts.

Kimberly Klosterman- RaptorMed Software & Computer Equipment to Assist with Local Raptor Rehabilitation (Ohio, USA)

Expanding the partnership between the Cincinnati Zoo & RAPTOR Inc. will greatly improve local avian wildlife conservation, brilliantly fulfill the mission of both organizations and help diversity the Zoo’s conservation efforts. There are over 20 different bird of prey species in our area, including several species of owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, osprey and vultures. Funds will help RAPTOR Inc. improve its quality of care and increase efficiency while conservating resources.