St. Louis Zoo receives national recognition for conservation eff -

St. Louis Zoo receives national recognition for conservation efforts

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The Ozark hellbender. (Credit: KMOV). The Ozark hellbender. (Credit: KMOV).

ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) awarded the St. Louis Zoo the 2016 North American Conservation Award for its Ozark Hellbender Augmentation program. 

The annual award recognizes exceptional efforts towards regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild.

“Conservation is a high priority for the St. Louis Zoo, as well as for all AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos, and this award provides well-deserved national recognition to the team at St. Louis Zoo for their leadership and commitment to protecting the Ozark hellbender and our natural heritage throughout the Ozark Hellbender Augmentation Program,” said Keith Winsten, chair of the AZA’s Honors and Awards Committee.

The Ozark hellbender is an amphibian that was historically abundant in the spring-fed rivers of Southern Missouri. After a great decline in the number of Ozarak hellbenders in the later part of the 20th century, the St. Louis Zoo in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service partnered to create the Ozark Hellbender Augmentation Program.

“The augmentation program for the Ozark hellbender is not only important for saving this species, but it also moves us towards a better understanding of the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem of our streams and rivers. The Ozark Hellbender—a veritable ‘aquatic canary in the coal mine’—can tell us much about the animal and human health; it is critical that we protect it,” said representatives from the St. Louis Zoo.

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