Wild Reintroductions

Conservation is at the heart of everything we do at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. We are involved in several programs that aim to rejuvenate vulnerable or endangered species in the wild, acting as a temporary home and rehabilitation center for animals that need a helping hand before they can return to the wild. Check out specific programs below to learn more. You can learn more about the conservation efforts of the Zoo on the At The Zoo: Sustainability page, Beyond Our Own Backyard page, Research page, or return to the main Conservation page.

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies and their migration have become threatened because of habitat destruction caused by humans. Milkweed, the sole plant larvae eat is being destroyed by human construction and herbicides. Beginning in 2003, the Zoo began participating in Monarch Watch. This cooperative network educates children and adults on raising and tagging butterflies. The Zoo tags 50-100 butterflies a year by placing a small sticker on their hind wings. The tagged butterflies are then released for their yearly migration. The Zoo has since recovered tagged butterflies in Mexico, indicating that they can survive the 2,000 mile journey south.

Coral Reefs

Fire Coral with Acropora palmata in background
Aquarists from our Zoo have teamed up with SECORE, an international organization that works to revitalize coral reefs. Our researchers travel to Mexico every August in time for the coral to spawn. During spawning, the coral releases thousands of tiny gametes, or egg and sperm bundles, that must meet with other gametes in order to fertilize and create new coral. However, since so much coral is disappearing from the wild, it is sometimes difficult for these gametes to meet up with one another. Our aquarists that work with SECORE collect the gametes, facilitate the fertilization process, and take them back to the ocean where they can grow into healthy coral colonies.