Founded in 1888, the Oregon Zoo (ORZ), located in Portland, is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi. Having grown tremendously from housing just one grizzly bear, ORZ currently cares for over 2000 individual animals, including 21 endangered species. ORZ actively works to restore populations of native species in the Pacific Northwest ranging from tiny butterflies to the continent’s largest bird, the California condor. Since 2007, the zoo has worked with conservation partners, including SPP, to restore Oregon spotted frog populations. ORZ is part of the effort that has released more than 3000 frogs into the wild.
Additionally, ORZ breeds and releases the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly to build populations and restore the butterfly to the remaining habitat available in its historic range. A captive rearing program established at ORZ has made tremendous progress in developing captive rearing protocols, which has led to large numbers of Taylor’s checkerspot caterpillars returned to the wild. Training provided by the staff at ORZ has been crucial to the success of SPP’s Taylor’s checkerspot captive rearing program. Over the past three years, the ORZ and SPP programs jointly have released over 9,000 checkerspots at various life stages from egg to pupa on sites both on and off of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. By February 2014, when caterpillars are next released, the joint total will be 15000!