Conservation Programs - Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

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 $3 million in programs to help animals and plants in the wild including fully funding the annual salaries of 16 field staff in Brazil, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Madagascar including biologists, researchers, village game scouts, and two wildlife veterinarians.


Field Staff fully funded by Naples Zoo:

Anteaters & Highways Project and Giant Armadillo Conservation Program (Brazil): Danilo Kluyber- Wildlife Veterinarian
Blue-Fronted Amazon Project
(Brazil): Caio Prates- Biologist Research Assistant
Forêt (the French word for ‘forest’):
Dr. Luke Dollar’s Fosa Research Team (Madagascar): Tinawati Soeisanto- Country Director, Harinhala Rin’ha- Logistical Director, Solonantenaina Randriamparany- Local Research Manager, Ravelojaona Rojo- Local Research Assistant
Giraffe Conservation Foundation (Operating in 18 Countries in Africa): Dr. Sara Ferguson- Wildlife Veterinarian
Lion Landscapes
(Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia): Stephano Asecheka- Human-Wildlife Conflict Program Officer, Plus Four Lion Extension Officers (1 in Zambia, 2 in Tanzania, 1 in Kenya)
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
(Sierra Leone): Foray Conteh- Bio-Monitor, Kalie Turay- Bio-Monitor (They both patrol around the national park with the highest density of wild chimpanzees anywhere in West Africa.)
Tanzania Conservation Research Program
(Elephants in Tanzania): Thomas Letion- Village Game Scout, and Leboi Ngoira- Village Game Scout

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.

Want to do more for conservation? 
Learn about supporting Naples Zoo
To support these efforts directly, you can donate online with the word "CONSERVATION" in the comment section or send a check payable to “Naples Zoo” with "CONSERVATION" in THE memo section and mail it to Naples Zoo, ATTN: CONSERVATION, 1590 Goodlette Rd N, Naples FL 34102-5260. 100% will go to conservation programs.

Long-Term Programs

Programs with asterisk have one or more of Naples Zoo's sixteen fully funded field staff.

  • African People and Wildlife
  • Anteaters & Highways Project*
  • AZA Conservation Grants Fund
  • AZA SAFE: Giraffes
  • AZA SAFE: Lions
  • AZA SAFE: Monarch Butterflies
  • AZA SAFE: Songbirds
  • Big Cypress National Preserve: Zoo-Park Partnership
  • Bird-Friendly® Coffee
  • Black Bear Conservation
  • Black-footed Cat Working Group
  • Blue-fronted Amazon Project*
  • Bonneted Bat Conservation
  • Conservancy of Southwest Florida: Burmese Pythons
  • CITES: AZA Observer
  • Collier County Public Schools: ZooCon
  • Florida Panther Conservation
  • FWC Exotic Pet Amnesty Day
  • Fosa Research Team*
  • Giant Armadillo Project*
  • Giraffe Conservation Foundation*
  • Glass Conservation Travel Fund
  • Hyacinth Macaw Project
  • Lion Landscapes*
  • Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group
  • Native Orchids
  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority: Black Rhino
  • Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) 
  • Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
  • Seafood Watch
  • Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area
  • Tanzania Conservation Research Program: Elephants*
  • Tiger Conservation Campaign
  • Trees for the Future
  • Wildlife Trafficking Alliance














Current Conservation Highlights


Madagascar: Lemurs and Beyond

Naples Zoo is the International Headquarters of the Madagascar Fauna & Flora Group, an international consortium of zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and related institutions with members on five continents. The MFG operates Parc Ivoloina and has a partnership with Madagascar National Parks to conduct conservation research in Betampona Natural Reserve, some of the last remaining lowland rainforest on the island. Naples Zoo is also a Platinum Sustaining Level 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 carries out conservation patrols. Naples Zoo also provides numerous in-kind services. Enjoy the great music in this fun video.

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 decrease these deadly encounters.  Naples Zoo funds the salary of the project's head veterinarian along with research to provide orphaned and injured anteaters the best chance of returning to the wild. Naples Zoo funds equipment like GPS collars as well as a blood chemistry analyzer to enable instantaneous health evaluations 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 the English and Portuguese language website for this effort. 
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 is increasingly helpful in informing conservationists as they track and manage both populations.

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 supporting the 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." To support these efforts directly, you can donate online with the word TIGER in the comment section or send a check payable to “Naples Zoo” mailed to Naples Zoo, ATTN: Tiger, 1590 Goodlette Rd N, Naples FL 34102-5260.

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 certified sustainable palm oil the norm.

Lions in Africa

Today, more than half of the estimated 24,000 wild lions remaining in Africa live in unprotected rangelands, shared with people and livestock. To secure lions and other large carnivores in the wild, their conservation must be valuable to the people who share the landscape with them. Lion Landscapes works alongside local communities and conservation partners in Africa to create landscapes where both large carnivores and local people can thrive. 

In addition to general support, Naples Zoo funds the annual salary of Stephano Asecheka, RCP's Human Wildlife Conflict Program Coordinator (left).  Almost 10% of Africa's lions live in the greater Ruaha landscape and face some of the highest rates of human-lion conflict. In addition to this position, Naples Zoo also supports Lion Landscapes by funding the annual salaries of their four Lion Extension Officers in Tanzania, Kenya, and Zambia. 

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Zoo staff has 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 estimated to be in the tens of thousands are breeding in south Florida and their growing population is negatively impacting native species. A look at the future impact is clear when looking at areas of Everglades National Park that were first inhabited by pythons decades ago. One study showed population declines of bobcats nearing 90% and rabbits and foxes nearly 100%. To give native species a chance, Naples Zoo supports Conservancy of Southwest Florida wildlife biologist and project manager Ian Bartoszek and his team in their research focused on discovering and removing these invasive giants.  As of 2021, over ten tons of pythons have been removed from the 60 square miles they work in. Beyond removal efforts, critical research on spatial ecology, genetics, feeding behavior, and more is being published to assist in wider control and management efforts. You can learn more about these efforts in a new book Tracking Pythons by Kate Messner. 

In addition to the python efforts with the Conservancy, Naples Zoo is also a member of the Southwest Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and a signatory of the Florida Invasive Species Partnership. Naples Zoo also helps educate on relevant issues including how to save your pet's life if it encounters a toxic cane toad. Cane toad toxin can kill a dog in as fast as 15 minutes. Download the Cane Toad Poster to learn how to save your dog's life.

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.

Dr. Dollar was featured 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 including the Country Director, Logistical Director, Local Research Manager, and  Local Research Assistant.


Naples Zoo funded a public primary school for the village of Betsitipahy near Ankarafantsika National Park through Friends of Madagascar that Dr. Dollar coordinates. The school was managed to be constructed during the pandemic and opened in 2020. For nearly three months, the sounds of construction, excitement, and anticipation filled the village as local children and adults watched their new school being built. The three classrooms and two water closets are now ready for over 125 children in this small rural community and replaces the old school that was damaged by the cyclones. It was quite a challenging process due to the limited infrastructure, the scorching weather, and the global pandemic that affected the procedures.

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™.




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, GCF's Conservation Health Coordinator. As an experienced wildlife veterinarian, she is regularly involved in everything from translocations to desnaring. Naples Zoo's Director of Conservation Tim Tetzlaff also serves on the Board of Directors for GCF.

Naples Zoo 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.

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. Naples Zoo is also a member of AZA's North American Songbird SAFE program.

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). Their mission is to guide and accredit all African Zoos and Aquaria to become effective and credible centres of animal welfare, conservation, education and research. Over a dozen facilities in five countries have met their revised accreditation standards. 

Planting Thousands of Trees a Year

Working with another non-governmental organization, Naples Zoo has helped plant over 900,000 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. The Naples Zoo Conservation Fund provides long-term support to a dedicated set of conservation partners. This support may include funding the salaries of field staff including game scouts, biologists, and veterinarians as many grants do not fund salaries of permanent staff critical to achieving successful outcomes. Following the spirit of the 2013 document produced by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Wildlife Conservation Committee approved by the Board in 2013 and revised in 2019 which defines field conservation acceptable for documenting in the Annual Report on Conservation and Science, the Naples Zoo Conservation Fund only funds direct costs associated with research which precludes funding of overhead for academic researchers and fellowships.

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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