Photo of a rhino outlined.

Here at the Potter Park Zoo we are incredibly passionate about our conservation efforts. We’re making an impact by contributing to research, field work, and donating funds to conservation organizations.

Our mission is to inspire conservation of animals and the natural world. You too can help save wildlife!

What is Potter Park Zoo Doing to Help Save Animals in the Wild?

photo of a toad.Puerto Rican Crested Toad SSP Breeding and Release:

Potter Park Zoo has participated in this program since 2009 and has successfully transported nearly 16,000 tadpoles to release sites in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican crested toad is the only native toad on the island and was thought to be extinct until a handful of toads were discovered in the mid-1900’s. Zoos are actively working to being this Learn more at

Peregrine Falcon Banding:

Potter Park Zoo veterinary staff coordinates with local nest watchers to examine and band fledging peregrine falcon chicks. While they have been delisted federally, Peregrine falcons continue to be listed as endangered under Michigan law.

Rhinoceros Signature Project – CREW (Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife):

Potter Park Zoo is committed to black rhino conservation and scientific advancement. We have been involved in several projects spearheaded by CREW including hormone response to olfactory stimulation and ongoing fecal hormone testing.

photo of a snake head.Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Field Research Project:

From 2004 to 2007, Potter Park Zoo in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, researched habitat selection and movement patterns of the Massasauga Rattlesnake in Southwest Michigan. Potter Park Zoo presented a research document in 2005 at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference.  Several members of the animal care team actively participate in field surveys and Species Survival Plan meetings every year.

American Pine Marten Field Research:

Potter Park Zoo collaborates with researchers from Grand Valley State University and Busch Gardens to gather data on individual animals. Potter Park Zoo staff assist in tracking, checking live traps, and documenting data.

Michigan Least Shrew Conservation Project:

Potter Park Zoo is partnered with the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy to locate the elusive least shrew which has not been seen in Michigan in over 50 years. The project is still in its early stages, but the results so far look promising.

USFWS Recovery Program for the Great Lakes Piping Plover:

Potter Park Zoo staff assists with the Piping Plover captive rearing program led by the Detroit Zoo. Abandoned eggs are brought to a captive rearing facility at the University of Michigan’s Biological Station in Pellston, Michigan where they are incubated.  The chicks are hand-reared in pens on the beach which protect them from predators as they acclimate to living in the wild. Piping plovers are released at sites with adult plovers and their nearly grown chicks when they are four weeks old.

American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK):

The Potter Park Zoo AAZK chapter raises funds yearly to support a variety of conservation projects. To date they have given money to: The Stewardship Network, Ruaha Carnivore Projects, International Rhino Foundation, and Red Panda Network. Additionally, the chapter holds a Bowling for Rhinos event every August, the proceeds of which support rhino conservation in Africa and Asia.

YOU Can Make a Difference While Visiting Potter Park Zoo

photo of a red panda.Quarters for Conservation:

Here at the Potter Park Zoo we are incredibly passionate about our conservation efforts and spreading the word on the importance of saving endangered species around the globe. We created an interactive display called “Quarters for Conservation” in our Zoo.

At the display guests can learn about three different species found at our zoo and help to save that species by donating a quarter to your favorite one. All donations go directly to a conservation organization working to save that species in the wild, and Potter Park Zoo matches the donation for the species with the most quarters donated.

Conservation Bookmarks:

Stop by the admissions booth or AniMall Gift Shop and purchase a conservation bookmark for $1. All proceeds from bookmark sales go directly to conservation! We have a new set of bookmarks for sale each year, making them a grat collectible item.

Participate in Seafood Watch – Learn More at the Penguin Exhibit! 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean, now and for future generations. Their recommendations indicate which seafood items are Best Choices or Good Alternatives, and which ones you should Avoid.

Conservation Events Hosted at Potter Park Zoo Each Year

Attend these events at the zoo to help us make a big impact with our conservation efforts! Many of these events have programs that 100% of the proceeds go to conservation. 

FrogWatch USA:

FrogWatch USA is a citizen science program aimed at training individuals, groups and families to learn about wetlands in their community by listening for and identify native frog and toad species. This information is then entered into an online database for use by researchers and scientists. Potter Park Zoo animal care staff hold several training sessions in the early spring and are always looking for new enthusiastic volunteers. Learn more about frog watch at and check out our events page for upcoming trainings at Potter Park Zoo!

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD):

For more than two decades, Potter Park Zoo has hosted a major celebration of IMBD. The zoo partners with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fenner Nature Center, and the Great Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. At the event the zoo is filled with hands-on interactive games and activities, chicks hatching in incubators and animal presentations all centered on the importance and conservation of neo-tropical migrant birds. Most activities are designed to encourage, inspire, and assist visitors with actions they can take to help conserve migratory birds.

World Rhino Day:

To celebrate World Rhino Day, Potter Park Zoo offers special tours and a behind the scenes look at our black rhino exhibit. Educational displays are placed along walkways to teach attendees about the plight of rhinos in the wild and to provide them with things they can do daily to more positively impact rhinos. 100% of the funds raised by the rhino barn tours are directly donated toa conservation organizations that works to save rhinos.

International Red Panda Day:

International Red Panda Day is an annual celebration at Potter Park Zoo. There are many activities for children of all ages, including red panda chats, scavenger hunts, red panda mask making, as well as enrichment and training demonstrations. During the event we raise funds to send to the Red Panda Network – a conservation organization dedicated to saving red panda in their native range.

Party for the Planet:

An annual event held at the zoo that is aligned with the AZA’s nation-wide Party for the Planet. This event features a wide range of informational stations; hands-on, interactive activities; animal presentations and social media posts. The focus is on conservation issues, conservation successes, the roles of zoos & aquariums in conservation, and conservation-positive actions everyone can take to make a difference.

Arbor Day Celebration:

An annual event focusing on the ecological, economic, and aesthetic values of forests. Potter Park Zoo partners with numerous national, state, county, and city natural resource agencies, Forestry NGOs, Michigan State University, private forest industry companies and dozens of area school districts.