Projects and Programs

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.