Committed to Conservation Research
Conservation is at the heart of what we do. Through financial support and participation in scientific research projects, Alexandria Zoo contributes to the care and conservation of animals both in human care and in the wild.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited members are committed to advancing scientific knowledge of the animals in our care, enhancing the conservation of wild populations, and engaging and inspiring our visitors.
Alexandria Zoo recently contributed to several scientific research projects.
Maned Wolf Nutrition & Care
Researchers are working to improve the nutrition and care of maned wolves in zoos. Profile and overhead photos of each maned wolf, along with photos of their fecal samples and habitats, were collected and sent to be analyzed. This data will be used to develop a body conditioning score chart, standardized fecal consistency scoring, and update the maned wolf animal care manual.
AZA’s Taxon Advisory Groups "are responsible for developing an action plan that identifies essential goals, scientific investigations, and conservation initiatives needed to best serve ex-situ (in human care) and in-situ (in the wild) populations." The Bear TAG recently conducted a survey to gather current husbandry practices from all AZA facilities holding bears to develop and update animal care manuals. Questions included information regarding nutrition, reproduction, physical facilities, and social groupings.
Two-toed Sloth DNA Testing
Alexandria Zoo participates in the Two-toed Sloth Species Survival Plan (SSP) program in addition to over 50 other SSPs. These programs manage selected wildlife species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population. Since it can be difficult to determine species (Linne’s two-toed or Hoffman’s two-toed) and sex in sloths based on physical characteristics, the two-toed sloth SSP is collecting saliva samples to genetically test each sloth. The results of the research will aid in population management.
North American River Otter Genetic Studies
Through the use of blood samples, this study will utilize Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) tools to survey the genomes of individual otters to evaluate relationships between geographically diverse populations. Additional benefits will be the identification of genetic markers for use in determining paternity, source populations, population genetic diversity, gene flow and migration, introgression and even taxonomy. This information can also be used with data from studies of ecology, physiology, veterinary medicine, and natural history to illuminate particularly important aspects of otter biology that can assist long-term conservation work.