Nashville Zoo is celebrating the new year with incredible conservation achievements. From breeding successes to headstart programs – we had a BIG year!
We actively participate in 50+ Species Survival Plan® Programs - for animals as small as Puerto Rican crested toads to as large as the Sumatran tiger! Here are a few highlights from 2021.
Species Survival Plan and Global Species Management Plans
We welcomed a male giant anteater pup, Esteban, on October 20, 2021, at our off-exhibit breeding facility. Giant anteaters are considered vulnerable to extinction due to habitat destruction, hunting, dog attacks, and road kills.
The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are recognized as leaders in caring for giant anteaters. See what we are working on and learn more about giant anteater conservation efforts here.
On November 2, 2021, we celebrated the birth of two cotton-top tamarins – Niko and Sophia. This is their parents’ third set of offspring born here at the Zoo.
Cotton-top tamarins are one of the smallest monkey species and are native only to a small area in northwestern Colombia and are considered critically endangered by the IUCN largely due to deforestation of their natural habitat and illegal pet trade. Nashville Zoo is part of the AZA’s cotton-top tamarin SSP® and financially contributes to Proyecto Titi, an organization in Colombia that works to engage communities in efforts to protect them in the wild.
This summer, we announced the birth of our first female Sulawesi babirusa piglet, Garland. These forest-dwelling pigs are native to just a few Indonesian islands and the IUCN considers them to be vulnerable to extinction. Nashville Zoo participates in the Global Species Management Plan which aims to foster a healthy population in human care and increase conservation projects in Sulawesi.
On October 3, 2021, we celebrated the birth of a male Palawan binturong kit. Binturongs are native to the forests of Southeast Asia and the IUCN lists them as vulnerable in some parts of Asia and endangered in others. Nashville Zoo is a part of the Palawan Binturong Species Survival Plan®.
Banded Palm Civet
Vinnie was born on August 31, 2021, to a pair of banded palm civets living behind the scenes. Civets are small nocturnal mammals native to the rainforests and jungles of Southeast Asia and are categorized as near threatened by the IUCN. We are one of the only AZA-accredited Zoos to have successfully bred this rare species over the years.
Nashville Zoo, again, successfully bred golden frogs in 2021. We have been participating in the Project Golden Frog/Proyecto Rana Dorada for several years in an effort to save the species from a fatal fungus spreading in its native habitat.
Puerto Rican Crested Toads
2021 was the Zoo’s most successful reproduction year for Puerto Rican Crested Toads producing 5,000 tadpoles to be released in Puerto Rico. Plus, a pair reproduced without hormone use, a first for Nashville Zoo, and a rare event for this species. These tadpoles will hopefully contribute to the population growth of this critically endangered species. Over the years, Nashville Zoo’s Puerto Rican Crested Toad conservation efforts have resulted in the release of over 20,000 tadpoles!
Nashville Zoo, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Tennessee State University teamed up this summer to release 29 Eastern hellbenders back into local Middle Tennessee streams after being raised at the Zoo for six years. This species is endangered on a state level and the population is in decline in Middle Tennessee. Nashville Zoo has been involved in hellbender conservation for nearly two decades and continues to be a leader in the conservation of this species.
Alligator Snapping Turtle
On August 26, 2021, a team from Nashville Zoo, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Cumberland River Aquatic Center released 30 alligator snapping turtles into waters near Wolf River in West Tennessee. 16 of the turtles were from Nashville Zoo’s headstart program. The turtles’ growth will continue to be monitored and contribute to conservation research. Alligator snapping turtles are a vulnerable species and are on the brink of becoming endangered due to threats such as habitat destruction, egg predation, and low infant survival rates. This conservation effort gave our team an in-depth look at this unique species and learned more about the ideal diet and environment these turtles need to thrive.
Coral Restoration Project
In February 2021, the Zoo took in 20 species of coral and opened the Florida Reef Tract Coral Conservation Lab. These corals were under the imminent threat of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Along with 30 other facilities, we are researching and rehabilitating this coral in hopes of returning it back to the ocean. Coral reefs are vital to the health of our ocean and planet. Learn more about this project and what you can do to save coral here.