Endangered and threatened animal and bird species face many unique challenges. Learn how the Toronto Zoo helps support wildlife through its various conservation efforts.
About the Massasauga rattlesnake
The Massasauga rattlesnake is the only species of venomous snake that’s found in Ontario. Due to human activities such as agriculture and housing developments intruding on its natural habitat, the Massasauga rattlesnake population is declining.
To support the conservation efforts, the Toronto Zoo is working to mitigate issues such as road mortality and helping with habitat restoration and population monitoring. The conservation program is currently working to build the managed population and undertake research on how reproductive output can be improved, with the goal being to release the snakes into the wild.
Conservation outcomes are also affected by over-wintering mortality that occurs in the wild, which impacts efforts to save species such as the Massasauga rattlesnake. The Toronto Zoo is working to understand over-wintering mortality in species by supporting a hibernation research study.
About the black-footed ferret
Black-footed ferrets face survival challenges from their main source of prey, the prairie dog, and also have to deal with farmers decimating colonies. A non-native disease known as the sylvatic plague is also largely affecting the ferret population.
The breeding program at the Toronto Zoo ensures their population numbers are sustained. Black-footed ferrets are nocturnal animals so they’re mostly active at night. The Toronto Zoo uses cameras during the night to look for breeding patterns and determine whether the pair has bred successfully or if one of the partners will have to be changed.
About the North American bat
A sudden occurrence of a foreign fungal disease has caused a significant decline in the North American bat population, with data suggesting a decline of more than 90 percent in Ontario and Eastern Canada. Four out of the eight bat species in Ontario are now listed as endangered.
Through their work in the field, the Toronto Zoo monitors local populations and works to uncover and support concrete conservation outcomes.
About the wood bison
Historically, wood bison could be found across the boreal forests of northwestern Canada and Alaska. However, changes in habitat use have resulted in small, disconnected herds remaining in northern British Columbia and Alberta as well as southern Northwest Territories and Yukon.
The Toronto Zoo is developing reproductive technologies as a tool to overcome the challenges of managing the endemic disease that’s threatening free-ranging wood bison herds and ultimately helping to restore genetically diverse, disease-free herds in the wild.
About the Eastern loggerhead shrike
The Eastern loggerhead shrike, a predatory songbird, is a grassland species that has been in steep decline since the 1970s. The subspecies found in Ontario is unique as it’s the only migratory subspecies, but this also presents challenges in determining the cause of their decline.
Since 1997, the Toronto Zoo’s conservation breeding and release program has released 225 birds back into the wild. The program has helped to stabilize the population while the zoo and other partners work to identify primary threats along the migration route.
About the Oregon spotted frog
The Oregon spotted frog is Canada’s most endangered frog, largely due to habitat loss. Their natural range is very small but because of human activities, they now only exist in very few ponds in British Columbia.
As the wild population continues to decrease, the Toronto Zoo is working on developing reproductive technologies to increase the reproductive output of this species.