Science Saving Species at Seneca Park Zoo

By Robin English, Seneca Park Zoo Senior Veterinary Technician

The Seneca Park Zoo is committed to playing a part in the conservation of species. By utilizing the scientific advances available to the zoo community, we can contribute more and more every day. Whether we are collecting samples, testing equipment, or aiding in the understanding of new techniques, the participation of the staff and the animals has helped to create a global network of collaborators for the betterment of zoo animals and their counterparts in nature.

What can be learned from collecting samples? Anything! The animal health team collects blood samples from our animals during every checkup. We also have several animals that will allow us to collect samples voluntarily. The data used from these samples can be compared across all zoos and can also be used as baseline data for samples collected from wild populations. It’s not just about the blood samples either. Over the last few decades, research on utilizing feces for analysis has grown. We can now learn hormonal changes to predict pregnancy, DNA sequencing to identify species, and more!


Masai giraffe Kipenzi participating in a blood draw

How do researchers know their equipment will work in nature? They bring it to the zoo for trials! Our African elephants have tested radio telemetry devices to see how they will stand up to the challenge. The designers can then make adjustments before deploying valuable equipment into the field.


Can zoo animals help to learn more about in situ populations? You bet they can! Our polar bear, Anoki, participated in a bite study where the amount of bites she took from a food item was compared to that of polar bears in nature. She has also been photographed so researchers can compare body condition markers of a healthy bear with those in nature.

Want to learn more about how Science is Saving Species? Stop by the zoo this weekend and chat with our veterinary technicians to find out more!


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