Conservation Corner: South American bushmaster

By Bonnie Heather Holland

South American bushmaster hatchling at the L.A. Zoo (Photo by Ian Recchio, 2016)

South American bushmaster hatchling at the L.A. Zoo (Photo by Ian Recchio)

The bushmaster is a highly venomous snake found in Central and South America. Very little is known about this elusive snake, which has been difficult to find in the wild and is rarely seen in captivity. The Los Angeles Zoo is one of the few zoos that currently exhibits the South American bushmaster (Lachesis muta), and, even more significantly, that has successfully bred this species, which is part of a managed breeding program (Species Survival Plan) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The L.A. Zoo recently partnered with the Orianne Society, a conservation organization dedicated to preserving endangered reptiles and amphibians within specific habitats. In particular, the Zoo supports, through funding, the Society’s Mesoamerican Project, which focuses on tropical habitats across Central America, specifically in Costa Rica and Panama. The focal species for this area are the black-headed bushmaster and the Central American bushmaster. The goal is to better understand the overall conservation status and habitat needs of these species. This is accomplished by conducting field surveys, educating local communities, and working with local residents to assist in these studies.

Be sure to stop by the LAIR to view the Zoo’s awesome bushmasters on display!