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CONSERVATION

GREAT LAKES CONSERVATION

CONSERVATION

Life on the Brink

Butterfly orange

One of the rarest butterflies, the Poweshiek skipperling, is on the brink of extinction. With support from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, John Ball Zoo is working alongside Michigan State University’s (MSU) Nick Haddad Lab, Minnesota Zoo, Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada and the Michigan Nature Association (MNA) to help repopulate this endangered species through the Poweshiek Skipperling International Partnership.

CONSERVATION

Field Conservation Projects

Every year John Ball Zoo sends Keepers out into the field to help with conservation projects around Michigan and abroad. Keepers put their expertise to good use helping native species. 

MassySSP_2014

Massasauga Rattlesnake

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are considered a Species of Concern here in Michigan, other states have them listed as endangered or threatened. John Ball Zoo works with other zoos, the Michigan DNR, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in a long term monitoring program to learn more about the Massasauga in hopes of helping them recover and thrive again. Every spring the team, including keepers for John Ball Zoo, head out to the swamps to find Massasauga’s and tag them. Over the past 6 years over 400 individual snakes have been succesfully tagged. The information gathered has been invaluable to helping this important species of snake.

Kirtland's Warbler

Kirtland's Warbler

The Kirtland’s Warbler is a small, endangered songbird that nests only in the unique jack pine forests of Michigan’s upper Lower peninsula and winters in the Bahamas. John Ball Zoo has sent a keeper to assist in the annual bird count to monitor the warbler’s population. The John Ball Zoo representative has also assisted in training new volunteers to assist in the count.

Moth

Poweshiek Skipperling​

The Poweshiek skipperling is one of the world’s most endangered animals and their last frontier is right here in Michigan. We partnered with Michigan State University’s Haddad Lab, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Zoo, and Assiniboine Park to breed these butterflies in human care and continue to learn more about the species. There are estimated to be only a few hundred left in the world!

Piping-Plover_wiki (2)

Piping Plover

The plover is a small, migratory shorebird that is highly endangered in Michigan and surrounding areas, with only about 60 breeding pairs left in their Great Lakes range. These little birds nest on the beaches of Lake Michigan and Huron in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. Each summer JBZ keepers join others at the U of M’s biological station in Pellston, MI to help monitor the Piping Plovers. Volunteers at the station monitor and protect nests on beaches, take in orphaned chicks or abandoned eggs and rear them to be released back into the wild. 

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Box Turtle

Box turtles are considered  threatened in the state of Michigan. John Ball Zoo has been collaborating with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and Pierce Cedar Creek Institute on a head starting program for these charismatic chelonians. Like many populations of turtles in North America, very few eggs or hatchlings escape raccoon predation. Eggs are incubated and hatchlings raised at John Ball Zoo until they are less vulnerable to predation. Biologists at GVSU study the head starts once they are released back into the wild. This information is critical to determining how effective our head starting efforts have been. 

Kirtland's Warbler

The Kirtland's Warbler is a small, endangered songbird that nests only in the unique jack pine forests of Michigan's upper Lower peninsula and winters in the Bahamas. John Ball Zoo has sent a keeper to assist in the annual bird count to monitor the warbler's population. The John Ball Zoo representative has also assisted in training new volunteers to assist in the count. 

Massasauga Rattlesnake

The Massasauga is Michigan's only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are considered a Species of Concern here in Michigan, other states have them listed as endangered or threatened. John Ball Zoo works with other zoos, the Michigan DNR, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in a long term monitoring program to learn more about the Massasauga in hopes of helping them recover and thrive again. Every spring the team, including keepers for John Ball Zoo, head out to the swamps to find Massasauga's and tag them. Over the past 6 years over 400 individual snakes have been succesfully tagged. The information gathered has been invaluable to helping this important species of snake.

Poweshiek Skipperling

The Poweshiek skipperling is one of the world's most endangered animals and their last frontier is right here in Michigan. This 2022 season, we partnered with Michigan State University's Haddad  Lab, U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service, Minnesota Zoo, and Assiniboine Park to breed these butterflies in human care and continue to learn more about the species. There are estimated to be only a few hundred left in the world!

Piping Plover

The plover is a small, migratory shorebird that is highly endangered in Michigan and surrounding areas, with only about 60 breeding pairs left in their Great Lakes range. These little birds nest on the beaches of Lake Michigan and Huron in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. Each summer JBZ keepers join others at the U of M's biological station in Pellston, MI to help monitor the Piping Plovers. Volunteers at the station monitor and protect nests on beaches, take in orphaned chicks or abandoned eggs and rear them to be released back into the wild. 

Wood Turtle

The Massasauga is Michigan's only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are considered a Species of Concern here in Michigan, other states have them listed as endangered or threatened. John Ball Zoo works with other zoos, the Michigan DNR, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in a long term monitoring program to learn more about the Massasauga in hopes of helping them recover and thrive again. Every spring the team, including keepers for John Ball Zoo, head out to the swamps to find Massasauga's and tag them. Over the past 6 years over 400 individual snakes have been succesfully tagged. The information gathered has been invaluable to helping this important species of snake.
CONSERVATION

Species Survival Plan - SSP

As an accredited organization with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), John Ball Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP). There are over 450 different SSP programs created to cooperatively manage species that are threatened or endangered. Each program is managed by an advisory group made up of animal experts. SSP programs not only help to manage animal populations in captivity but also help contribute to field conservation efforts, species recovery, and veterinary care for wildlife diseases. Look for the SSP symbol on animal signage the next time you visit the zoo to see if your favorite animal is part of this great program working to protect animals from extinction.

Bennett’s Wallaby
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Black Howler Monkey

 

Spotted Turtle
Wood Turtle
N American River Otter
Cougar
Snow Leopard

Maned Wolf
Capybara
Southern Screamer
Chilean Flamingo
White-faced Saki Monkey

Red Panda
Amur Tiger

Chimpanzee
Lion
Eastern Mountain Bongo
Southern Ground Hornbill
Warthog 

Black-headed Spider Monkey
Black Footed Cat
Cotton-top Tamarin
Goeldi’s Monkey
Prehensile-tailed Skink
Mexican Bearded Lizard
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Spotted Turtle
Wood Turtle

Red-crested Cardinal
Magellanic Penguin

CONSERVATION

Green Operations at John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo is committed to conserving resources and in doing so we strive to make all of our operations as green as possible. Through our waste management, vegetated walls, green roofs, energy conservation, water conservation and other green operations, we are making a continuous effort to make our environment as safe as possible for our animals and our guests.

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Great Lakes Rare Turtles

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Turtles are in trouble around the world and locally. The Great Lakes Rare Turtle Program addresses on threats that are existential and widespread for Blanding’s, Spotted, Wood, and Box Turtles. The John Ball Zoo is working wth partners to study head starting as a conservation tool, protecting nesting habitat for Wood Turtles from raccoons, and researching the distribution and status of Spotted Turtles in Southwest Michigan. The zoo partners with local community scientists to indentify road crossings that pose a threat to Blanding’s and other species of turtles.

Partners

Poweshiek Skipperling

Oarisma powesheik

Facts
Habitat

Grassland, Wetlands (inland)

Threat Range

Critically Endangered

Region

Extant (resident) - Canada (Manitoba); United States (Wisconsin, Michigan), Possibly Extinct - United States (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa), Extinct - United States (Indiana, Illinois)

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Mitchell's Satyr

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The prairie fens of southern Michigan are a stronghold for the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. We are working with Michigan State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develp to propagate this rare butterfly. Offspring reared in the program may be used to supplement wild Mitchell’s Satyr populations.

Partners

Freshwater Mussels

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Freshwater Mussels are one of the most fastenating groups of animals. Unfortunately they are also one of the most imperiled groups on animals with more than 70% of North American species listed as Threatened or Endangered. Our own Grand River is home to an impressive 32 different species, 19 of which are listed. The John Ball Zoo is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to evaluate Grand River Mussel populations. During the 2023 field season, the team documented over 1,000 individuals from 27 different species. This includes the Endangered Snuffbox Mussel.

Partners

Habitat Hero

Community Science
About

The Habitat Hero program is focused on creating better urban pollinator habitat by giving away native plants to west Michigan community members. By giving away native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, we are inviting community members to provide crucial nectar sources for pollinators as well as become more involved in pollinator conservation in their own yards and gardens.

Partners

Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

Community Science
About

American Kestrels are one of North America’s most abundant raptors, but their populations have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s. This year we have begun participating in the American Kestrel Partnership, run by the Peregrine Fund, to monitor local kestrel nest boxes and help better understand Kestrel population trends and biology.

Partners

Grand River Sucker Monitoring

Community Science
About

Suckers are a very important, and often overlooked, group of migratory fish that inhabit the Grand River. Every spring they migrate upriver from Lake Michigan to spawn in tributaries of the Grand River. We are joining a project started by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to determine how changes in temperature and flow of the streams impact the spawning behavior of the suckers.

Partners

Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

Community Science
About

One of the major threats to turtle populations is mortality associated with roads and vehicles. We have a team of trained volunteers who survey predetermined road crossing sites and report the number of turtles they find at these locations. We plan to use the data to assist in conservation decision-making regarding roads and turtles in west Michigan.

Partners

Michigan Butterfly Network

Community Science
About

As part of our pollinator conservation work, we want to understand how native butterfly populations are changing over time. By training community members to use the Michigan Butterfly Network monitoring protocol, we are offering passionate people the opportunity to help contribute to our understanding of butterfly populations in west Michigan.

Partners

Bat Surveys

Community Science
About

West Michigan is home to several species of rare and threatened species of bats. This summer we will have a group of volunteers collecting bat occurrence data by driving predetermined routes and using special recorders and software to identify bat species. The data will be submitted to the North American Bat Monitoring Project as part of their ongoing analysis of bat abundance and occupancy across North America.

Partners

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are listed as Threatened. The John Ball Zoo helps to educate the public on the plight of the Massasauga and helps conservation biologists study them in the field. Currently, we are assisting Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Grand Valley State University, and Sarett Nature Center develop new technologies to monitor this secretive snake species.

Partners

City Nature Challenge

Community Science
About

The City Nature Challenge is one of the world’s largest annual community science events. Started by iNaturalist in 2016 as a friendly competition between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, this bioblitz has grown into a global phenomenon with over 500 cities participating. Taking place over the last weekend in April each year, the City Nature Challenge is all about getting outside and documenting the biodiversity in and around our communities while building and strengthening relationships with other people who are passionate about conserving local species. The West Michigan City Nature Challenge is Michigan’s only City Nature Challenge event, and encompasses Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa Counties. We are excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many other local organizations to engage our communities in four days of exploring our biodiverse outdoor spaces.

Partners

Michigan Area

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Freshwater Mussels

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Habitat Hero

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Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

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Grand River Sucker Monitoring

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Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

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Michigan Butterfly Network

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Bat Surveys

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Massasauga Rattlesnake

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City Nature Challenge

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Get Involved!