Beyond Our Own Backyard

At the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium our passion for animals and interest in conservation reaches far beyond our own backyard. We have teamed up with organizations across the globe to help spread a love for wildlife, educate others on the importance of conservation, and regrow populations of endangered species. From educating aquarium hobbyists on responsibly harvesting fish to sponsoring guard dogs to protect African livestock from cheetahs, our involvement in this diverse array of programs allows us to help animals and ecosystems around the world.  You can learn more about the conservation efforts of the Zoo on the At The Zoo: Sustainability page, At The Zoo: Animal Conservation page, Research page, or return to the main Conservation page.

  • Alaskan Wildlife
    • otterThe Zoo staff regularly assists the Alaska Sea Life Center (ASLC), an ocean wildlife center with which the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has a partnership. The ASLC strives to research, rehabilitate, and educate Alaska’s marine ecosystems. Zoo staff help to recover injured and stranded marine mammals, travel to the ASLC to assist with the workload, and when appropriate, transport rescued animals to their long-term homes.

      One such mammal is our sea otter, Meshik, who lives at Water’s Edge. He was orphaned as a pup and was deemed to not be releasable back into the wild. The Zoo helped to care for him in Alaska, and assisted with his transport to Pittsburgh.
  • Polar Bears
    • polarbearPolar Bears International is the world’s leading polar bear conservation group and the Zoo serves as an Arctic Ambassador Center. As such, we keep our bears active and content in our bear-friendly exhibits, support PBI research projects, and educate visitors through our programs and resources. By raising awareness of humans’ impact on polar bears, we join other leading zoos from around the world in saying, “Together we can save polar bears and the Arctic, but we must act soon.”

      Other polar bear projects at the Zoo:
      • Tundra Connections: A live video broadcast at the Zoo in which we talk to polar bear experts in the tundra at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada during the annual gathering of the polar bears.
      Project Polar Bear: A national contest for teenagers. Winners receive grants to continue working on their conservation projects.
      • Leadership Camps: A gathering of delegates from the Zoo travel to Canada to study polar bears up close. They act as ambassadors here in Pittsburgh, and organize locally to save the environment and the polar bears.
  • Elephants
    • frozendumbo The International Elephant Foundation
      African elephants are one of the most well recognized animals on earth, yet their populations are dwindling due to poaching and habitat loss. We hope to revitalize the species and ensure that this highly intelligent and magnificent creature has a bright future. The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) supports and operates elephant conservation and education programs both in managed facilities and in the wild. It emphasizes management, protection, and scientific research. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is a leader in the captive breeding of African elephants, having four elephants of our own that were born right here at the Zoo. We work with the IEF by providing our expertise to other zoos worldwide.

      Project Frozen Dumbo
      Captive elephants who are currently reproducing are getting older, and less elephants are being born than are in existence. At this rate, it is possible that there will not be any elephants in North America within the next 40 years. We hope to reverse this trend through our participation in Project Frozen Dumbo. Project Frozen Dumbo is a sperm bank stocked with semen from wild African elephants. This artificial insemination program hopes to add genetic diversity to elephants in captivity. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium contributes to the program by collecting body measurements and documenting research through video and photography. 

      Zoo Wuppertal Partnership
      The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has a sister partnership with Zoo Wuppertal in Germany. Zoo Wuppertal has an excellent elephant breeding program with their bull Tusker,. They have had four successful births, two males and two females. Our partnership includes keeper, veterinary equipment, and information exchanges between our Zoo and theirs. 
  • Livestock Guardian Dogs
    • poppie2African farmers often have trouble keeping their livestock safe from predators such as cheetahs, leopards, and pythons. As a result, they shoot predators that might harm their herd. However, when the farmers use domestic dogs to guard their livestock, they report an 80 percent to 100 percent reduction in predator-related livestock losses. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium sponsors a young female guardian dog named Poppie. She is turning out to be a star guard dog. Because of the success of guardian dogs like Poppie, farmers are allowing cheetahs and other predators to roam freely rather than using lethal predator control methods. This allows these endangered predator populations a chance to grow.
  • Rhinoceroses
    • rhinoBlack rhinoceroses are a critically endangered species. The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) strives to maintain a healthy and viable captive population of rhinos. By working with the IRF, the Zoo hopes to ensure the survival of the world’s five rhino species in the wild and in captivity. The birth of our female black rhinoceros calf, Janine, in 2012 contributed to this goal.
  • Project Piaba
    • projectpiabaProject Piaba works with local fishers to conserve and maintain the live ornamental fish native to the Rio Negro basin, and the fisheries in this area that sustainably harvest these fish. The Zoo supports Project Piaba through education. We teach aquarium hobbyists how to responsibly manage their home aquariums. By encouraging visitors to sustainably harvest ornamental fish, we are protecting both the Amazon rainforests and the people who live there.
  • African Outreach
    • keep1 African Wildlife
      The Kakamega is the only remaining tropical rainforest in Kenya. The Kakamega Environmental Education Program (KEEP) works with local Kenyan communities, including school-aged children, to conserve the Kakamega rainforest. The Zoo partnered with KEEP to exchange ideas and research in the hope to protect the rainforest for future generations.

      Africa’s Primates
      The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) partners with local people to protect Africa’s primates and ecosystems. PASA is made up of many sanctuaries across Africa that care for orphaned chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, drills, baboons, and other endangered primates. 

      Partners in Conservation (PIC) is a collaboration between conservation organizations and the indigenous people of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Members of the PIC work together to conserve gorillas by reducing poaching and deforestation. The Zoo actively supports PIC through financial contributions and through keeper initiated projects.
  • Asian Outreach
    • redpanda
      Red Panda
      The Zoo has funded a project in Nepal to determine the status and distribution of red pandas within the Jaljala region. We increased stewardship of the local people and are working on habitat conservation. The project is aimed to enhance red panda conservation.

      Philippine Crocodile Conservation
      The Mabuwaya Foundation aims to protect the wild populations of the critically endangered and endemic Philippine crocodile. The Zoo is involved in a captive breeding program.
      Snow Leopards
      The Snow Leopard Trust is committed to the long term conservation of the endangered snow leopard through research and community partnerships. The Zoo has provided financial resources and field researchers who are actively engaged in learning more about this rare and mysterious animal.

      Bornean Orangutans are endangered, with 80 percent of their formerly pristine habitat lost to selective logging. In Sabah, Malaysia, many orangutans still live outside of their primary forests. The Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project (KOCP) was founded by Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Research Fellow, primatologist Dr. Isabelle Lackman-Ancrenaz, and her husband, wildlife veterinarian Dr. Marc Ancrenaz. The project is now comprised of 42 skilled local research assistants dedicated to the conservation of the orangutan through research, conservation, and education.

      Originally founded to conduct the first ever study on how orangutans cope with changes in their habitat, the KOCP has also undertaken other projects, including: 

      Honorary Wildlife Wardens
      The Sabah Wildlife Department has appointed volunteer members of the local community to be Honorary Wildlife Wardens, who have the power to enforce local wildlife laws.

      Forest Elephants
      Forest elephants of Sabah, a genetically distinct Asian Elephant species, have a bad habit of raiding crops, which can cause great hardship for local farmers. The KOCP researches ways to prevent the animals from crop-raiding.

      Community Based Ecotourism 
      KOCP partners with Red Ape Encounters and promotes habitat and wildlife friendly travel. By doing so, they hope to stimulate local conservation and the local economy.