Conservation in Action
Everyone loves a baby, and right now, the L.A. Zoo sure has a lot of them. But the reason why we breed animals isn’t to attract visitors; it’s to save endangered and threatened species as a hedge against extinction in the wild. When you visit the Zoo, you’re helping support critical conservation work to maintain healthy animal populations.
Here is just a small glimpse into the Zoo’s conservation efforts:
Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog
Once widespread in the southern Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino mountains, the mountain yellow-legged frog is on the brink of extinction due to introduced predators, disease, pollution, and drought.
This breeding program takes place entirely behind the scenes. Since 2007, Zoo staff have bred and released hundreds of mountain yellow-legged frogs into the wild. The goal is to restore this vanishing California native to its former range.
Status: Critically Endangered
California condors eat carrion, which often contains spent ammunition, resulting in lead poisoning. Although the California condor is critically endangered in the wild (just over 400 birds), the Zoo and its partner organizations have increased their numbers by 2,000% since 1982!
Our California condor ambassador, Dolly, may reside off exhibit, but she makes special appearances at conservation and education events to foster a better understanding of her species and to inspire people to take action in conservation.
Related Article: Days of the Condor
Giant River Otter
In 2008, the L.A. Zoo launched an initiative to help improve the numbers and genetic diversity of the giant river otters in zoos. In the wild, this otter species is endangered due to poaching, habitat fragmentation, and human/animal conflict.
Unfortunately, the mother of the first litter born at the Zoo was unable to properly care for her pups, who did not survive. Although it had never been done before, our zoo keepers stepped in to successfully hand-rear the next litters of giant otter pups. One of these hand-reared pups is now a mother raising her own pups. You can see her, her mate, and her pups on exhibit at the Rainforest of Americas.
Even though Komodo dragons are the largest reptiles in the world, their numbers are threatened by human activity and natural disasters. Like branches on a tree, the Zoo’s Komodo dragon lineage spreads far and wide. The L.A. Zoo has hatched more Komodo eggs than any other zoo in the nation, and the offspring can be found at zoos worldwide.
The Zoo has also pioneered a method of sexing Komodos before the eggs hatch, allowing us to reduce the shortage of available reproductive females and helping create demographically stable captive populations.