Zoo Map

Endangered Species


Animal conservation is a top priority at the Akron Zoo. That is why we are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is a program designed to cooperatively manage specific and typically threatened or endangered species within AZA-accredited zoos.

The Akron Zoo is Currently Involved in 46 SSP Programs  

  • Seba’s short-tailed bat
  • Jamaican fruit bat
  • Humboldt penguin
  • Chilean flamingo
  • Tawny frogmouth
  • Golden lion tamarin
  • African lion
  • Jaguar
  • North American river otter
  • Red panda
  • Giant African millipede
  • Freshwater stingray
  • Silver-beaked tanager
  • Sloth bear
  • Mauritius pink pigeon
  • Partula snail
  • Silver fulu - Lake Victoria cichlid
  • Wood turtle
  • Galapagos tortoise
  • Prehensile-tailed skink
  • Komodo dragon
  • Madagascar teal
  • White-winged wood duck
  • Marbled-teal
  • White stork
  • Andean condor
  • Hyacinth macaw
  • Burrowing owl
  • Snowy owl
  • Laughing kookaburra
  • Bali mynah
  • Blue gray tanager
  • Southern three-banded armadillo
  • Ring-tailed Lemur
  • Red ruffed lemur
  • Pygmy slow loris
  • North American porcupine
  • Capybara
  • African straw-colored fruit bat
  • Rodrigues flying fox
  • Sumatran tiger
  • Snow leopard
  • Red Wolf
  • Kinkajou
  • Blue-eyed black lemur
  • Speke's gazelle

Endangered Species Success Stories

Through the work of zoos and other conservation groups many animal species whose numbers were declining are now making a comeback. See their stories below.

Snow Leopards

LeopardFound in 12 countries across Central Asia, it is thought that only about 4,000 to 6,500 of these mountainous cats are left in the wild. Many of the threats affecting snow leopards are human related and include poaching, loss of habitat and prey, mining activities and lack of resources.

There are 153 snow leopards in AZA accredited zoos in the United States. The Akron Zoo has had success in breeding snow leopards, with three litters being born here. Each set of cubs become part of the Species Survival Plan and moved to other zoos. At new zoos, they are paired with appropriate mates to continue increasing the population size.

As part of the conservation fund, the zoo donates funds to the Snow Leopard Trust. This organization works with local communities to help educate and build an environment where snow leopards can thrive.

Red Wolves

Red WolfThis top predator once ranged throughout much of the southeastern United States into coastal areas of Texas. The clearing of forested habitats and aggressive predator control programs nearly brought the red wolf to extinction by the end of the 1970’s. In 1980, 14 remaining red wolves were brought into captive settings to take part in breeding programs, causing them to be officially extinct in the wild.

From these original 14 “founders,” successful breeding programs increased the population of the red wolf. In 1987, reintroductions began in an area of North Carolina called Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, followed by successful births in the wild a year later. Today, approximately 40-60 individuals roam the refuge.

The Akron Zoo is one of more than 40 AZA accredited zoos who are working to help reestablish the red wolf population. Two red wolves live at the zoo, a male and a female, and someday they may have pups to add to the population. Currently there are approximately 200 red wolves in AZA zoos and breeding facilities.

The zoo supports the Red Wolf Coalition, an organization that advocates for the long-term survival of red wolf populations. They work with local communities to educate and foster public involvement in red wolf conservation.

Partula Snail

Several species of Partula snails, a land snail, were once common in the South Pacific Islands. This small herbivorous snail was used to decorate ceremonial wear and jewelry by native people. By the 1960’s, a non-native African land snail had become established after escaping cultivation programs. Unfortunately, the African land snail began eating local agricultural crops.

In an attempt to control the infestation of the African snail, yet another, this time, carnivorous snail was released. This snail, the Florida rosy wolf snail, apparently found the Partula snail tastier and began hunting and eating its way through nearly 76 species of the native Partula snail. Today, they are considered extinct in the wild.

Fortunately, there are species of Partula snails that survive in zoos. The Akron Zoo is one of about six zoos who are working on increasing the Partula snail population. Through breeding we have a healthy colony that averages 250-500 individual snails. Working with the St. Louis Zoo, some of our snails will join others from zoos in the United States and they will make their trip to Tahiti, where they will be released into the wild.

Bald Eagles

North American Bald EagleThe bald eagle was adopted as our national bird in 1782. At that time this bird of prey was quite common in North America, numbering from 300,000–500,000 individuals. By the 1950's the species had declined to only about 412 nesting pairs. The main threats were DDT pesticide use, which ended up in water ways and therefore in the fish that the eagles consumed. This caused the shells of eggs laid by the female to be so brittle that they broke when an adult bird sat on them to brood. Another factor that led to decline was shooting deaths. Through many efforts by the United States and Canada, the bird’s numbers have slowly increased and today they are listed as "least concern." The bald eagle success story shows how people can work together to save wildlife. Although this bird is protected in the United States, they still become injured through accidents or human actions. The eagles that live at the Akron Zoo are some of these eagles. Having lost most or all of their wings through injuries, our bald eagles can no longer fly and therefore are not able to survive on their own in the wild. We have provided a home for these majestic birds for the rest of their lives, which can be up to 30 years.

These eagles also work to educate people on a daily basis, giving them an up-close view of their size and fierce stare. People often walk away with a greater appreciation of the birds as well as an awareness of how they can have a positive impact on wildlife in the future.

Coral Reefs

CoralThe largest living structure on Earth is made up of animals that individually is no bigger than half an inch. Coral reefs are made up of many different types of corals, each coral has hundreds or thousands of individual animals called a coral polyp. These polyps live as colonies, clustering in groups, and secreting a hard calcium carbonate skeleton around their bodies. Coral reefs have often been called “rainforests of the sea” because they are made up of, and house, so many different animals. In fact, coral reefs provide homes for one quarter of all life in the oceans.

These reefs are as fragile as they are diverse and are disappearing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that 10% of the Earth’s coral reefs are dead, and another 60% are at risk. Current threats to coral reefs include: coral mining, runoff pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, and even sunscreen.

The Akron Zoo has a living coral reef on exhibit. This is a great place to see corals first hand and learn how even in Ohio, we can protect reefs. Staff from the Akron Zoo are working with staff from the Florida Aquarium to help increase staghorn coral populations. They are working to help ensure good genetic diversity within the population and helping to conserve reefs for the future.

White-winged Wood Duck

Wood DuckThis medium sized duck is found in northeast India and Bangladesh eastward to Indonesia. They live in dark, dense tropical evergreen forests, near rivers and swamps and tend to be sedentary, not migrating, but will move to find available water. This species is considered endangered due to a sharp decline in numbers, only about 800 as of 2002.

The biggest issue facing this duck is environmental fragmentation. The widespread deforestation, degradation and disturbance of river habitats, collection of eggs and chicks for food or pets, hydro-power development and poor forest management have resulted in small fragments of forests. This results in poor genetic diversity among the ducks, causing increase of genetic diseases and weaker genetic populations. The Akron Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan with white-winged wood ducks. We currently have a breeding pair at the zoo as well as some that are part of a breeding project at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. Working with partners helps to ensure the success of increasing the numbers of this critically endangered species.

North American River Otters

River OtterOnce common throughout most of North America, with the exception of the frozen Arctic and the southwest, the North American river otter was extirpated (locally extinct) from Ohio by the early 1900's. The primary causes for this disappearance were due to unregulated trapping and habitat destruction. Although the decline was due to human impact, humans worked together to save the river otter.

In the 1980's, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources began a project of restoring water systems and relocating river otters into these habitats. Since 1993, the river otter population has steadily increased in Ohio with recent estimates numbering approximately 8,000 individuals. Their distribution has increased to cover 67 counties throughout Ohio.

At the Akron Zoo, we have two North American river otters. You can watch them playing, swimming and napping in their exhibit. They are part of the Species Survival Plan and will one day add to the number of river otters found in zoos. Learning more about how best to care for river otters at the zoo, we can also learn how to manage their wild homes as well.