Peterborough zoo to feature at-risk species, including popular Fortnite character

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Peterborough Zoo to feature at-risk species, including popular Fortnite character
On this edition of Out & About Caley Bedore visits Riverview Park and Zoo to meet some of the zoo's at-risk species and to learn more about conservation efforts. Photo Courtesy: Riverview Park and Zoo – Mar 16, 2023

A number of residents of Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough, Ont., will be moving to new exhibits come July for a display focusing on conservation and education.

Zoo manager Cathy Mitchell said population awareness is a main priority at the facility.

“We have a lot of animals here that are part of our species survival plan where we work with other zoos and sanctuaries and researchers so we can ensure a healthy, diverse, genetic, captive populations so we can protect their habitats and their species for re-release into the wild,” Mitchell said.

Some of those animals will be featured in a summer conservation exhibit to shine the spotlight on at-risk species. Mitchell said one resident might already be familiar to some — that is, if you, or your kids, play Minecraft or Fortnite.

“This is our axolotl, a Mexican salamander,” said Mitchell, noting the species is featured as a character in those popular video games.

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“It is a fascinating species only found in Mexico City, in a certain area where the depth of the water meets their specific needs,” she said.

And while their popularity is at an all-time high, their population in the wild is dwindling.

“These guys are critically at-risk. They are the only species that we know of that can re-grow spinal material and even brains and they will be on display this summer so everyone can learn more about them.”

She added the species is not on display just yet but will have a permanent enclosure come the fall.

Another species to be featured this summer is the West African dwarf crocodile, including two new additions to the family,

“We are so excited to introduce the public to our two new baby dwarf crocodiles,” Mitchell said. “This species is critically endangered, so they will be on display as part of our conservation exhibit in the summer, where we try to educate the public on certain conservation issues.”

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Along with species facing population issues, the exhibit will also feature those with habitat loss. Including the poison dart frog, native to rainforests across Central and South America.

Mitchell noted that while they still don’t handle the frogs at the zoo, it is their diet in the wild that contributes to their toxicity.

“Research shows that they get their poison from one species of bug they eat at the bottom of the rainforest,” she said. “These guys aren’t necessarily at-risk, but their habitats are. The rainforest is so important because of the biodiversity so we need to work to protect their habitats.”

The Seasonal Conservation Exhibit will be open to the public from July 1 to Labour Day, located in the Dobbin Building. In the meantime, the baby dwarf crocodiles (and their parents) are on already on display.

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