The Zoo’s Research Program

The core of the mission of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is about saving wildlife and protecting wild places. The Zoo’s research efforts advance science to improve our knowledge of species we care for, contribute to animal health and wellbeing, and protect wildlife and the ecosystems they rely on.

The Maryland Zoo’s Research Program, part of the Conservation Department, strives to strengthen and advance science at the Zoo in order to:

  • Improve upon the health, husbandry, and ultimately the wellbeing of animals in human care
  • Use the Zoo as a living laboratory so that the animals in our care can further our knowledge about their species at the zoo as well as their wild counterparts
  • Support collaboration among zoological parks, academic institutions, conservation organizations, government agencies, and the Maryland Zoo
  • Empower and encourage staff to lead and take part in scientific projects

Recent Scientific Project Carried Out By Zoo Staff

Alan Zigler, animal keeper for the Maryland Wilderness and Panamanian golden frogs at the Zoo, performed an acoustic study of the Zoo’s large group of breeding Panamanian golden frogs.

Working with an outside researcher specialized in animal acoustics, we found that the Zoo’s male Panamanian golden frogs call at specific times throughout both the day (just before dawn, throughout the morning and into the afternoon) and the year (more from December to March, which aligns with their breeding season). We were also able to demonstrate that individual male frogs have calls that are discernible from one another and from frogs originally from different locations in Panama.This study will lead us to examine next how this acoustic signaling may influence reproduction in positive ways.

Zigler A, Straw S, Tokuda I, Bronson E, Riede T. Critical calls: Circadian and seasonal periodicity in vocal activity in a breeding colony of Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki). PLOS One. 2023;18(8):e0286582.

Are you a Researcher? Please contact the Zoo’s Conservation Department to inquire about any projects, proposals, or questions you may have: