The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore staff work hard on behalf of wildlife and wild places worldwide. The Zoo’s many conservation projects include:
The Maryland Zoo participates in more than 20 Species Survival Plans (SSPs), coordinated through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs carefully plan for the future of species living in the zoos. For an endangered species, a genetically sound population is critical to studying that species and increasing its numbers.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore holds the largest captive population of African black-footed penguins in North America, and has been responsible for an extensive breeding program for this threatened species for many years. Staff have traveled to South Africa to study black-footed penguins in their natural habitat and to participate in conservation efforts. The Maryland Zoo’s African penguin experts assisted with an oil spill clean-up off the coast of South Africa. The spill affected 44,000 penguins; 90% were successfully released back into the wild.
The Zoo is one of the founding members of Project Golden Frog (PGF), a conservation consortium among Panamanian, Canadian and U.S. institutions which has as its primary goal prevention of the extinction of Panamanian golden frogs. The golden frog is believed to be functionally extinct in the wild largely due to a fungal disease that is suspected of causing the extinction of amphibian species on four continents and in Central America. The Maryland Zoo has the largest breeding colony of golden frogs in North America. We are engaged in research on innovative reproductive techniques to make breeding these rare animals easier in captivity. The Zoo has also partnered and is working with the Houston Zoo and other PGF members to construct an amphibian breeding facility in Panama to assist with local participation in conservation efforts. Hopefully our combined captive breeding efforts will keep the species alive until a cure for the fungus can be found and the frogs can be released back into their natural habitat.For more information visit Project Golden Frog’s website at www.ranadorada.org
The Maryland Zoo serves as an Arctic Ambassador Center in partnership with Polar Bears International. In support of polar bear conservation, the Zoo actively engages in protecting and saving habitat in addition to helping promote reduced carbon emission here in our community. Our keepers have participated in Polar Bear International education efforts both here in Baltimore and in Churchill, Canada, one of the most densely populated polar bear sites in the world. In turn, our keepers help translate their knowledge to our guests through special polar bear awareness events, keeper talks and lectures that help educate our community about climate change and the need for conservation. Our own polar bear habitat here at the Zoo allows visitors the opportunity to get up close with polar bears in a natural setting. Through both the uniquely designed exhibit and ongoing enrichment we help encourage natural polar bear behavior. This gives visitors a first-hand view of this unique species with the goal of promoting activism on behalf of polar bears around the world.
The Maryland Zoo partners with Seafood Watch as a way to further our efforts to conserve African Penguins. The seafood watch program guides consumers in making seafood choices that have the smallest negative impact on the environment through their printed guide, website and mobile app. Overfishing is a serious issue that causes wild penguins to have to compete more, swim further and wait longer to find food, which puts their survival at risk. As a Seafood watch partner, we can empower our visitors to make choices in their own lives that protect African Penguins in the wild.