The Maryland Zoo, centrally located in Baltmore’s Druid Hill Park, has historically been a place for families to socialize, exercise, and learn firsthand about a vast array of animal life. Since its establishment in 1876, the shady, green campus functioned as an urban oasis for humans and animals as the zoo evolved from a menagerie into a renowned facility housing native animals and endangered species threatened by climate change and habitat loss.
“People don’t always understand how important zoos are at helping animal populations survive in the wild because a lot of that work goes unseen,” says Michael Evitts, Senior Director of Communications. The zoo staff participates in animal and habitat conservation programs in Baltimore and around the world, “and we are stepping up more than ever as environments are being challenged.”
According to President and CEO Kirby Fowler, the majority of their staff members have degrees in biology, zoology, and environmental science, and, whether they are veterinarians, educators, or keepers, all are engaged in local and global conservation work. The zoo’s state- of-the-art animal hospital, for example, organized a national study of COVID vaccine response in big cats through a partnership with the Felid Taxon Advisory Group from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“We have a cryobank that goes back decades, and people reach out from all over the world to access samples,” says Evitts. “We are also working on one repopulation initiative for turtles native to Maryland and another with the Panamanian golden frog, which is extinct in the wild.” As a leader in this effort, the Maryland Zoo team is working with conservation partners in the U.S. and Panama to establish a new parent colony that could repopulate this beloved amphibian.