Support Conservation and Research

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Support Conservation and Research

Conservation rests at the heart of the North Carolina Zoo's missions and management. At home, the Zoo minimizes the waste it produces and the resources it consumes. Around the world, the Zoo puts staff into the field to help lead, establish, and manage anti-poaching programs and to conduct research that helps local people protect wildlife and nature. These good works depend almost entirely on donations from private individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies.

2019-2020 Annual Report
Vulture 2021 Annual Report

General Field Research Program

The Zoo's animal, conservation, research, and veterinary staffs participate in conservation programs in North Carolina and around the world. In addition to collecting valuable research data, Zoo professionals collaborate with local community leaders and biologists to establish viable, sustainable conservation programs. Wildlife already served by these programs includes vultures, lions, gorillas, elephants, Hellbenders, turtles, and more. Please use the form below to make a general donation in support of the Zoo's field research programs.

Conservation Medicine

Donations to the Zoo Society fully fund the Veterinary Staff’s Conservation Medicine Program, which carries out research, provides training and purchases equipment related to the medical needs of rare and endangered species. For example, this program monitors the health of wild snakes found on the Zoo's grounds, surveys amphibian populations for disease, and studies the pharmacokinetics of white rhinos. Please use the form below to donate to support the Zoo's conservation medicine program.

African Elephants

Staff from the North Carolina Zoo entered Africa more than two decades ago to provide veterinary assistance to existing conservation teams and to supply local rangers and biologists with technologies that can track elephant herds moving across long distances. This improved surveillance helps rangers interfere with poaching operations and protect elephants from coming into conflict with local people. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's elephant conservation program.

Box Turtles

The Zoo Society cooperates with the Box Turtle Conservation Workshop Committee to support the Lucille R. Stickel Box Turtle Research Award. Donated funds support research that contributes to the survival of wild box turtles, and in doing so continues the life's work of Lucille Stickel, a biologist who died in 2007. Please use the form below to donate in support of the Zoo's box turtle conservation program.


Hellbenders (a.k.a. “Snot Otters”) are North America’s largest salamanders. Like many other amphibians, Hellbender populations are declining throughout much of their range. The North Carolina Zoo contributes to Hellbender conservation by sending researchers to the Smokey Mountains several times a year both to monitor their populations and to test ways to boost this fully aquatic salamander’s reproductive success. Currently, the team is adding artificial nest boxes to known Hellbender streams to determine if increasing the availability of nesting and sheltering sites can boost reproduction. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's Hellbender conservation program.

Cross River Gorillas

For more than a decade, North Carolina Zoo staff has led international efforts to protect this highly endangered Great Ape. This work puts staff on the ground in Africa to monitor Cross River Gorilla populations and to equip, train and support rangers protecting these gorillas and their habitat. The Zoo’s involvement makes smart-technology available to rangers and biologists who track Cross River Gorilla troops and provides these professionals with data they can use to locate and disrupt potential poaching sites. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's Cross River Gorilla conservation program.

Red Wolves

The North Carolina Zoo maintains a sequestered, non-public holding site for a group of Red Wolves, North America’s most endangered Canid species. Currently, this site supports the second-largest breeding population of Red Wolves in existence. Your donation will help the North Carolina Zoo continue to protect this species from extinction. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's red wolf conservation program.


Through the Zoo's UNITE for the Environment program, staff collaborates with Ugandan teachers to strengthen their skills as environmental educators and stewards of the natural world. Through this work, Zoo staff helps communities find ways to live sustainably and reduce their impact on Kibale National Park, home to the largest Chimpanzee population in East Africa. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's chimpanzee conservation programs.


The North Carolina Zoo protects wild African vultures by tracking their movements, monitoring their populations, and working to mitigate threats to their survival—especially deaths that result from poisonings. Poisonings occur when people lace carcasses with pesticides to kill predators (e.g., lions, hyenas, leopards) that scavenge on the remains. The Zoo’s vulture protection programs train people to identify and arrest people responsible for these poisonings and to reduce the harm to wildlife by rehabilitating sick animals. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's vulture conservation programs.

Polar Bears

The North Carolina Zoo partners with Polar Bears International to protect wild Polar Bears and to mitigate sea ice losses resulting from global climate change. In addition to supporting Polar Bear International's fieldwork in the service of Polar Bears, the Zoo continues to search for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and to influence other groups and individuals to do the same.  Please use the form below to donate to Zoo supported Polar Bear conservation programs.

Frog Conservation

Zoo staff works in the field and inside the Zoo to protect several rare and endangered frog species. Most Zoo work focuses on two native species, the Carolina Gopher Frog and the Ornate Chorus Frog. Hoping to boost their wild population, the Zoo manages onsite “tadpole nurseries” where their eggs and larvae can develop without exposure to predators and other hazards. When tadpoles reach froglet stage—with four functioning legs and no tails—they go back into the wild. So far, the Zoo has released more than 400 froglets into their native wetlands. Please use the form below to donate to the Zoo's frog conservation programs.

Anti-Poaching Programs

At times, foreign conservation and wildlife protection agencies call on the Zoo's Research and Conservation staffs to train and equip rangers and other biologists working in the field to protect wildlife. Zoo staff responds by providing workshops, anti-poaching hardware and software, and sometimes uniforms to these wildlife heroes. Please use the form below to make a general donation in support of the Zoo's anti-poaching programs.

Native Wildlife

In addition to protecting the Park and its animals, staff oversees the care of 2,000 acres of undeveloped land around and near the Zoo. Through habitat preservation and restoration, Zoo staff helps ensure that these areas can continue to provide healthy habitats for native animals and plants. This work includes efforts to restore threatened Longleaf Pine habitats in the Sandhills.

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