The Philadelphia Zoo works with partners and colleagues around the world to save wildlife. From South America to Asia to Africa, these projects are conducting research, protecting habitat, educating communities and building capacity. We are proud to support them and the important work they do.
Endangered Primate Rescue Centre
Photo credit: T. Nadler
Since 1993, the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre
(EPRC) in Cuc Phong National Park has been helping to confiscate and subsequently care for illegally held primates and other wildlife in Vietnam.
EPRC works to “reintroduce” confiscated langurs back into the wild whenever possible; using GPS-radio collars to track and monitor the progress of released family groups. The same GPS technology is used by park guards and rangers to more effectively patrol forested areas and record data on wildlife activity.
The Zoo and the Zoo’s Docent Council have been supporting EPRC by recycling cell phones
to generate money for the Centre. Cell phone recycling also helps keep toxic phone parts out of landfills and reduces the need for destructive mining for these parts (specifically coltan).
Amur tigers are threatened by habitat loss and poaching to support the illegal trade in tiger parts. Amur leopards suffer from habitat loss, persecution by local villagers and depletion of prey sources due to over-hunting.
There are estimated to be only about 400 Amur tigers left in the wild. Amur leopard populations number at 40, making them perhaps the most endangered large cat in the world.
Tigris Foundation programs support anti-poaching efforts, forest fire-fighting, population monitoring and habitat analysis among other measures needed to protect these magnificent cats.
Snow Leopard Trust
The Snow Leopard Trust excels in integrating scientific data with community-based conservation strategies.
Their work includes mapping and monitoring habitat, assessing human-wildlife conflict levels and identifying potential resources for conservation initiatives.
Many of the Snow Leopard Trust's conservation programs are designed to help people in snow leopard areas increase their household income and raise their standard of living. As part of the program, these families agree to help protect the snow leopard and the unique habitat they share.
Madagascar Fauna Group
The Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG) is a consortium of zoos and other organizations working together to conserve Madagascar’s wildlife.
The Philadelphia Zoo has participated in MFG’s black and white ruffed lemur reintroduction project in Betampona Reserve by sending three groups of Zoo-born lemurs to be reintroduced to this area of lowland rainforest in eastern Madagascar. One reintroduced lemur has even gone on to successfully breed with a wild lemur!
MFG funds field research projects on many species of lemurs but also on a variety of reptiles, amphibians, birds and plants on Madagascar, such as the side-necked turtle and the Madagascar pond heron. To ensure a future for Madagascar’s wildlife, MFG works with the Malagasy government on conservation planning.
Giant Otters in Brazil
Giant otters are very susceptible to human disturbance. With increasing human activity in the Amazon, research is needed on their adaptability to these changing conditions.
Dr. Fernando Rosas studies otters in the Balbina Hydroelectric Lake where they inhabit an area with human-constructed dams. By using radio telemetry, several groups of otters can be more easily monitored to obtain data on their movements and behavior.
Dr. Rosas’ research will help document the effects of human presence on giant otter populations and find ways to minimize impacts.
Jaguars in Western Belize
The jaguar’s role as an “umbrella species” adds another layer of urgency to conserving them. Because large cats have large home ranges, their protection will ensure the protection of vast amounts of biodiversity sharing the same habitat.
Dr. Marcella Kelly has been using remote camera-trap surveys to monitor jaguar populations in Western Belize for more than 10 years. A recent a three-year study investigated the impact of sustainable logging on jaguars. A comparison was made to determine how many individuals were using a sustainably logged forest vs. an unlogged forest in Belize, Central America.
The overall aim of this study was to determine whether logging practices in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, the largest private reserve and second largest protected area in Belize, are indeed “sustainable” in terms of the effects on mid- and large sized animals like jaguars.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
The cheetah is the most endangered cat in Africa, mainly due to loss of habitat and conflict with humans. Most cheetahs in the wild are living on private land and often considered to be a threat to livestock, which is the farmer’s livelihood.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) conducts long-term studies to help understand cheetah health, genetics, biology and reproduction. These studies help develop education and conservation programs such as the “Livestock Guardian Dogs Program,” where dogs are raised and trained by CCF and given to local farmers for use in protecting their flocks from cheetahs. This preventative measure often stops farmers from killing cheetahs.
In 2009, a border collie named Finn was trained by Philadelphia Zoo staff to locate cheetah “scat” by scent. Once training was complete, Finn traveled to Namibia to launch another highly successful CCF initiative, the “Scat Detection Dog Program.” Today Finn continues to help CCF researchers find scat, from which they extract DNA to identify individual cheetahs and understand their population structure.