Animal: Louisiana pine snake, Pituophis ruthveni
Since 2010, Memphis Zoo has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service (Catahoula District, Louisiana) and our colleagues at the Audubon, Fort Worth, Ellen Trout, Phoenix, Jacksonville, and Knoxville zoos to release zoo-bred pine snakes onto restored habitat in Grant Parish, Louisiana to create a new, self-sustaining population of this critically endangered species.
Known from a mere 223 wild specimens since its discovery in 1927, the pine snake was extirpated from most of its historic range during the first half of the 20th century, due primarily to logging. Today it persists on three tiny parcels of marginally suitable habitat in Louisiana, and these last populations continue a rapid decline. Preserving these relict populations, alone, will not be sufficient to save the species. To date, a total of 98 Louisiana pine snakes have been released back into the wild. Many of our initial releases are now mature individuals and we expect to document reproduction soon.
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