Conservation Programs

Naples Zoo is ranked among the top zoos in the nation contributing to field conservation as a percentage of total budget. Just since 2014, Naples Zoo has invested over $2.1 million in programs to help animals and plants in the wild including funding the annual salaries of 10 field staff in Brazil, Uganda, Tanzania, and Madagascar including biologists, researchers, village game scouts, and two wildlife veterinarians.

With a firm belief that what is best for people and wildlife is the same thing in the long run, Naples Zoo strives to support conservation efforts that reflect this mutual benefit. Naples Zoo's mission incorporates inspiring the conservation of our planet's wild areas and their wondrous inhabitants. For the wisest use of limited funds, Naples Zoo places priority on supporting proven conservation efforts within existing long-term programs regionally and internationally. Our staff serve or have served in a variety of capacities with non-governmental conservation organizations and with state and federal agencies.

From the Author of The Last Lions of Africa: "Naples Zoo is everything a modern zoo should be: caring for the animals under its care, deeply engaged in the local community, and playing a significant part in the bigger conservation picture. Visiting here means participating in, and understanding our shared conservation mission. And more than most zoos I've visited, conservation here felt real and changing our world for the better suddenly seemed possible."  - Anthony Ham

explore Conservation Actions You Can Take.

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Learn about supporting Naples Zoo
and all our efforts including ones like you see below.

Current Conservation Highlights

Tigers in Malaysia

Naples Zoo is a Platinum Level funder of the Tiger Conservation Campaign, a collaborative effort with the Species Survival Plan® and the Wildlife Conservation Society. WCS has a long history with tigers. As Dr. Luke Hunter, Executive Director of their Big Cats Program states, "I am proud to be working with the Naples Zoo team. Their dedication to world class care of their big cats is mirrored in their outstanding commitment to support conservation of endangered cats in the wild, from panthers in Florida to tigers in Malaysia. When it comes to saving wild cats, Naples Zoo punches above its weight."  Naples Zoo also advocates for sustainable palm oil use to protect tiger habitat and is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the organization dedicated to making sustainable palm oil the norm.

Giant Anteater

Already largely gone throughout Central America, giant anteaters face new challenges as roads crisscross their home ranges. Naples Zoo supports the "Anteaters & Highways" project to determine how to decrease these deadly encounters.  Naples Zoo funds the salary of the project's head veterinarian and has also purchased GPS collars including new research to provide orphaned anteaters the best chance of returning to the wild. In 2020, Naples Zoo also purchased a blood chemistry analyzer to enable instantaneous health evaluations of the animals in the field and increase the team's ability to understand the impacts of particular diseases or threats such as pesticides. Along with ongoing tracking on this species in the wilds of the Pantanal, this project focuses on the degraded Cerrado biome in Mato Grosso do Sul. In addition, Naples Zoo hosts and designs the English and Portuguese language website for this effort at

Naples Zoo also funds the project's annual dues to Species360 for them to use the Zoological Information Management Software (ZIMS).   As wild populations of threatened species become increasingly fragmented and isolated, the kind of management needed for wild populations becomes less distinguishable from current zoo management practices. Sharing ZIMS data on fertility rates, medical values, diet, and even things like habitat preferences and appearance is critical to informing conservationists as they track and manage both wild and zoo populations.

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Zoo staff have served the greater Association of Zoos and Aquariums community through committee service including Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation, Business Operations, Public Relations, and Conservation Education as well as serving as studbook keepers, Species Survival Plan® coordinators, accreditation inspectors, and more. The Zoo also participates in over 30 Species Survival Plan® programs to care for rare animals in and outside the wild including species like the endangered mountain bongo and cotton-top tamarin.

Invasive Burmese Pythons and Other Species

Burmese pythons are breeding in south Florida and their growing population is negatively impacting the Greater Everglades. Naples Zoo supports Conservancy of Southwest Florida biologists and their research focused on discovering and removing these invasive giants.  As of May 2020, 15,500 pounds of pythons have been removed from the 60 square miles they work in. Naples Zoo is also a member of the Southwest Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and a signatory of the Florida Invasive Species Partnership and helps educate on relevant issues including how to save your pet's life if it encounters a toxic cane toad. (Download the Cane Toad Poster.)

Florida Panthers

In collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Naples Zoo is providing lifetime care for a female panther left behind at a den when she was just a few weeks old. The Zoo also created a facility to provide short term care for other injured or orphaned panthers. (See video of rehabilitated panther being released.) Along with providing daily education to visitors, Naples Zoo now hosts the Florida Panther Festival held in November each year. The Naples Zoo Conservation Fund helped establish a remote camera grid in Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to help in long-term monitoring and continues to fund the classification of the photos for ongoing research to determine best management practices. Naples Zoo also hosts a website where people can commit to driving the posted speeds in designated panther zones at and get a color panther crossing decal for vehicles.

Naples Zoo's collaboration with Riptide Brewing Company in Naples contributes thousands of dollars a year to helping panthers and people coexist. Riptide custom brews two craft beers: Uno Ale and Athena Ale. Our sincerest thanks to Riptide their ongoing support. In 2021, this event funded replacements for remote trail cameras that were stolen from Big Cypress National Preserve. These cameras were involved in the research of Feline Leukomyelopathy (FLM), a neurological disorder of unknown origin that impacts panthers ability to walk. Previously, the zoo also purchased five GPS collars for FWC to use to study FLM. Thank you, Riptide!

AZA Conservation Grants Fund

Since 2001, Naples Zoo has contributed over $50,000 to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Conservation Grants Fund. Following review by the AZA Board, grants from the fund are issued annually for conservation projects and research to benefit animals in zoos and in range countries from turtles in the USA to elephants in Myanmar. CGF grants are awarded in six categories: 1. Animal Health 2. Animal Welfare 3. Conservation Education 4. Field Conservation and/or Reintroduction 5. Management and/or Breeding 6. Research

Big Cypress National Preserve

To help protect local species, Naples Zoo cooperated with staff at Big Cypress National Preserve to help design bilingual graphics that help visitors understand how to view wildlife safely while in this nationally protected area. By keeping people safe as well as preventing animals from becoming nuisance animals, the local wildlife can stay wild. The Zoo funded the production of the graphics and framing that are now installed at welcome centers, viewing areas, and campgrounds in the Preserve. Additional graphics focus on helping bears and visitors co-exist safely. Naples Zoo staff helped plant native species in key areas as well as assisted in clearing invasive plant species from wildlife underpasses and funded camera traps to monitor the wildife using this important corridor for panthers, bears, and other species.



Naples Zoo and Big Cypress National Preserve cooperate on projects to benefit species like alligators, black bears, Florida panthers, and other native species. The Zoo-Park Partnerships connects AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums with National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and forests/grasslands in facilitated partnerships to restore wildlife and habitat in North America. ZPPs share three common elements: collaborative field conservation, reciprocated interpretation, and citizen stewardship.
DOCUMENTARY FILM: Naples Zoo and Big Cypress NP also collaborated to fund a short-format 8-minute documentary about the Florida panther which can be seen at This now award-winning film has been accepted at 16 film festivals located within historic panther range.

Madagascar: Helping Dr. Luke Dollar Save Fosas

In cooperation with National Geographic explorer Dr. Luke Dollar, Naples Zoo helped fund educational posters, stickers, and lambas (multipurpose garment) that educate farmers about the benefits of healthy fosa populations. And for the first time ever with Naples Zoo funding, fosas were tracked using GPS collars revealing previously unknown behavior. 

Other projects include fuel efficient stoves (video) to reduce deforestation and research on invasive water hyacinths that impact waterways.

Dr. Dollar is on the cover of a Nat Geo science book used by 4th grade students to learn the scientific method. He makes an annual visit to connect with thousands of Collier County Public School students through video links and in-person classroom visits. In addition to the virtual visit, Dr. Dollar has personally visited all elementary schools in Collier County. 

Naples Zoo also funds the annual salary of four of his Fosa Research Team. 

Naples Zoo funded a school for the village of Betsitipahy near Ankarafantsika National Park. The school was managed to be constructed during the pandemic and opened in 2021



Florida Bears

Naples Zoo staff participate in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's South Bear Stakeholder Group with its mission to conserve the 1,000 plus bears in this part of Florida. As part of local conservation education efforts, Naples Zoo's Black Bear Hammock exhibit educates guests how to live with bears. The Zoo also collaborates with Collier County Public Schools on a live video link connecting over 3,000 local students to zoo and FWC biologists.

In partnership with the state, Naples Zoo created and maintains which offers standards-based curriculum on Florida's bears for teachers as well as numerous resources for coexisting with bears including key information for residents and Home Owners Associations.

Naples Zoo has also designed and funded graphics for placement at over 20 locations in Big Cypress National Preserve to help visitors understand how to secure food other to prevent issues with bears. Efforts like these are part of the ZOO-PARK PARTNERSHIP FOR AMERICA’S KEYSTONE WILDLIFE™.



Madagascar: Lemurs and Beyond

Naples Zoo is the International Headquarters of the Madagascar Fauna & Flora Group, an international consortium with members on five continents. Naples Zoo is also a Managing Member and our Director of Conservation serves as the Chair. The MFG accomplished the first and only release of zoo-born lemurs into the wild. The MFG cares for animals confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade, teaches sustainable agriculture practices, educates locals on conservation, and patrols and does research in a strict nature reserve. The MFG's Saturday School program has dramatically improved academic success. Naples Zoo provides numerous in-kind services and funds a Saturday School in a neighboring village. Enjoy the great music in this fun video.


In collaboration with other natural partners, Naples Zoo staff have participated in planting native orchids in Florida protected areas on both the east and west coast to help establish healthy populations of rare species in the state. In addition, Naples Zoo is currently funding a collaborative effort coordinated through Atlanta Botanical Garden to secure several species of orchid that became extinct in the US, but still survive in Cuba. The goal is to cultivate and return these species so they can once again be seen in Florida.

AFRICAN Elephants

Even though Naples Zoo has not been home to elephants for decades, we annually fund the second-longest running elephant research in Africa. Dr. Charles and Lara Foley's efforts focus on protecting elephants and their migratory corridors around Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. In addition to general support, Naples Zoo funds the annual salary for two village game scouts: Thomas Letion (on left) and Leboi Ngoira (at right). 

We also advocate for their survival in the wild through the 96 Elephants campaign coordinated by Wildlife Conservation Society. 96 Elephants? That's the number of elephants killed each day - one every fifteen minutes. You can help elephants by signing on to 96 Elephants and support ivory ban legislation to close loopholes that allow illegal ivory to be sold on US streets.



As giraffe populations have plummeted over 30% in the last thirty years, Naples Zoo is a VIP Conservation Partner of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to promote initiatives that work collaboratively with local communities to develop a sustainable future for both people and wildlife. Naples Zoo increased its commitment by funding the annual salary of Dr. Sara Ferguson, Uganda Wildlife Coordinator for GCF. As a wildlife veterinarian, she is regularly involved in saving the critically endangered Nubian giraffe from poacher's snares. Naples Zoo's Director of Conservation serves on the Board of Directors for GCF.

Naples Zoo also connects local students to GCF staff in Africa through live video conferences. Get Involved: See how you can help rangers protect giraffe by donating a new or used handheld GPS. And remember to buy your SAVE THE GIRAFFES wristband at the Zoo to further help GCF. 


Our support for giraffes is greatly enhanced each year thanks to a collaboration between Naples Zoo and South Street in Naples for hosting Longnecks for Longnecks in celebration of World Giraffe Day. The thousands of dollars raised each year go to excellent use by Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Thank you South Street! 


Naples Zoo supports protection of tropical habitats by promoting sustainable palm oil. This popular oil is used in many products we have in our homes from snacks to cosmetics. Use the free app to allow gibbons, rhinos, tigers, orangutans, and more continue to have forest homes. Naples Zoo is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the organization dedicated to making sustainable palm oil the norm.

Lions in Africa

Disappearing in Plain Sight: While still readily seen in National Parks, lions have lost more than 80% of their historic range. Naples Zoo supports the Ruaha Carnivore Project through the African Wildlife Foundation.

In addition to general support, Naples Zoo fully funds the annual salary of Stephano Asecheka, RCP's Human Wildlife Conflict program coordinator. Almost 10% of Africa's lions live in the greater Ruaha landscape and face some of the highest rates of human-lion conflict. Using a number of tools including reinforcing traditional livestock enclosures, educating local people, and partnering with Lion Guardians, their efforts have decreased the number of lions killed by 80% in their core research area. 


bird friendly coffee

Your morning cup of coffee can be a powerful tool to help migratory birds and many other tropical species from spider monkeys to sloths. Many coffee farms clear-cut their trees to raise coffee in full sun to grow beans faster, but it's a sacrifice for people, wildlife, and coffee quality. The alternative is "shade-grown" coffee and the gold standard is the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's "Bird Friendly" certification. You can try some at the Zoo and you can buy a bag at Whole Foods Market®. Learn more about supporting conservation with every cup.

Cheetahs & Predators in East Africa

Having lost 90% of their population since 1900, the fastest land mammal can't outrun its threats on its own. Naples Zoo supports the African People and Wildlife Fund including the training, outfitting and daily activities of village game scout teams to conduct anti-poaching operations. They also provide annual study tours to Tarangire National Park where students view cheetahs in a non-confrontational setting, and much more. The Zoo has funded dozens of their "Living Walls" which protect livestock and thus reduce retaliatory killing of cheetahs, lions, and African wild dogs.

Helping African Colleagues

In order to assist our zoo and aquarium colleagues in Africa achieve their conservation and education missions in their countries, Naples Zoo is a patron supporter of the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) They have 70 members in 12 countries. We also fund an African mentor who visits zoos and helps them improve their animal care and conservation mission. PAAZA sees one of the primary functions of zoos and aquariums as healing the relationship between man, animal and their mutual environment.

Planting Thousands of Trees a Year

Working with another non-governmental organization, Naples Zoo has helped plant over 750,000 trees since 2009. We support a comprehensive approach whereby farmers and other community stakeholders can help to restore natural resources, decrease hunger, and create income. By planting millions of trees in the Forest Garden model, the combined activities of these local communities are also solving a larger global challenges such as climate change, food insecurity, rural-to-urban migration and the effects of natural disasters.

Healthy Aquatic Life

Naples Zoo is a Seafood Watch Conservation Outreach Partner distributing free Seafood Watch cards to help consumers identify the best fish to eat for healthy fish and healthy oceans. Watch the video and see how to add an icon to your smart phone to easily have access to the best dining choices wherever you are.  And to help fishermen in Madagascar know which fish species in the river are endangered and should be returned to the water and not placed into the cooking pot, Naples Zoo helped fund an educational poster that was distributed on the island.

Conservation and You

With a firm belief that what is best for people and wildlife is the same thing in the long run, Naples Zoo strives to support conservation efforts that reflect this mutual benefit.

Naples Zoo's mission incorporates inspiring the conservation of our planet's wild areas and their wondrous inhabitants. For the wisest use of limited funds, Naples Zoo places priority on supporting proven conservation efforts within existing long-term programs regionally and internationally.

Want to do more for conservation? Learn about supporting Naples Zoo and all our conservation and education efforts including ones like you see above. 


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