The David Traylor Zoo of Emporia

2022 Conservation Plan



The conservation plan for the David Traylor Zoo of Emporia encompasses the following:  educational programming, interpretive and educational materials, participation in AZA animal management programs, support of the in-situ field projects, resource support for local conservation programs and programs for energy and natural resource conservation.  It also includes the conservation message listed on our website.  The conservation plan is a flexible and evolving document that serves to guide the development of educational programs and materials, components of the institutional collection plan, distribution of conservation funds and resource support and conservation efforts within the zoo and local community.  The plan is created by the director, animal collection manager and the education coordinator and reviewed on an annual basis.


As stated in the zoo’s mission, vision statement, and goals, wildlife conservation is the driving force behind all endeavors of the David Traylor Zoo of Emporia.


Mission Statement, Vision Statement and Goals:


Mission Statement:


To provide an environment which inspires respect and stewardship for the natural world, improves the future for wildlife and provides a recreational opportunity for learning about nature and conservation.


Vision Statement:


To create a place that inspires responsible stewardship of the natural world.




Propagation: To provide rare and endangered species with a healthy environment, utilizing the best husbandry and veterinary practices, to insure genetically viable animals their maximum opportunity to reproduce.




To make the public aware of the plight of rare and endangered species in an ever modernizing world, as well as the human role as caretakers of nature and guardians of species survival.




Through cooperation with other zoological parks, scientific and veterinary communities, seek to enhance and understanding of physiological and environmental needs of rare and endangered species.




To provide the public with an opportunity to view a variety of species in large habitats with the hope of making the educational experience more meaningful.


AZA Captive breeding programs:


David Traylor Zoo currently participates in the following programs and houses one or more individuals of the following species:


Cinereous Vulture SSP


Cotton-top Tamarin SSP


Black and White Ruffed Lemur SSP


Crowned Lemur SSP


Ring-tailed Lemur SSP


Southern three-banded Armadillo SSP


Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec SSP


Laughing Kookaburra SSP


Nene Goose SSP


Trumpeter Hornbill SSP


King Vulture SSP


Common Spider Tortoise SSP


Sacred Ibis SSP


Kinkajou SSP


Scarlet Ibis SSP


Support for Local In situ Conservation Projects:


Black-footed ferret (Musteela nigripes) reintroduction project:


In 2007 the first Black-footed ferrets were released on private lands in Logan County, Kansas, 50 years after the last ferret was sighted in Kansas. The ferret population is surveyed each spring and late summer/fall by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Kansas State University biologists. The David Traylor Zoo’s Docent, Angela Anderson, assisted biologists with nighttime surveys, live animal trapping. Anesthesia, and exams on the ferrets for four nights each in the spring and fall of 2016. She also participated in the surveys in 2017-2019 and plans to participate in the 2022 surveys, as well as future surveys. The Zoo has also participated in ferret releases in Western Kansas. In addition, the zoo has provided financial support to the project along with other Kansas zoos since 2008.


Ornate Box Turtle Population Data Project:


In 2019, all seven accredited Zoo’s in Kansas began working together with the KDWPT to evaluate the ornate box turtle population across the state in eight counties. We have 2 census plots-one with known ornate observations and one where the presence of ornate box turtles is unknown. Staff and Volunteers surveyed these sites 2x monthly from early March to early November. The project will be complete in November 2022.


Waterfowl Release Program:


Native waterfowl have been provided to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for their reintroduction program.


The Zoo annually accepts numerous Wood Duck ducklings which are raised and consequently released.


Monarch Tagging Program:


As a certified weigh station for Monarch Watch, the Zoo staff and volunteers help catch/tag Monarch butterflies each year. Two major roosting/feeding areas have been identified by Zoo Staff in the Northern section of the county. Counts for Monarch Watch and Journey North have been submitted on an annual basis since 2016.


Pronghorn Antelope Population Surveys- Flinthills


The Zoo Director works with local KDWPT staff to conduct pronghorn population studies in the Flinthills of Lyon/Chase Counties


Financial Support for Conservation Organizations:


David Traylor Zoo of Emporia provides financial support for a variety of international conservation organizations. These organizations conduct in situ conservation work, generally for species represented in the zoo’s collection.


Funds for conservation for 2016-2021 were raised via:


$                      Proceeds from Coins for Conservation graphic


$                      Emporia Friends of the Zoo


$                      Zoo department budget (WWF, KWF, IWWA, KHS, AAZK, IWRC)


Financial Support for Conservation Efforts - EFOZ


               Conservation Grants Fund and SSP Check Off








               Conservation Planning Specialist Group














               Species 360-ZIMS






Black-footed Ferret Re-introduction- support state-wide conservation efforts










                              2020- no surveys per covid




               KDWPT—Pronghorn Field Study/Research






               Monarch Watch - Monarch Tagging / Milkweed Planting / Seeds














               Ornate Box Turtle Population Study


                              2018-$             70                                                                                                                                  








               Proyecto Titi, Inc. – Cotton-top Tamarin Conservation




               Paly Foundation- Pollinator Conservation Education




               AZA SAFE – Sea Turtle Rescue




               AZA SAFE – Vaquita Rescue








               Lyon County Conservation – Pollinator




               Lemur Conservation Foundation




Conservation and Education messages:


Education is an integral component in all of David Traylor Zoo’s mission, to provide an environment which inspires respect and stewardship for the natural world, improves the future for wildlife and provides a recreational opportunity for learning about nature and conservation, reflects this.


The Education Department has found that presenting conservation messages to the public with a hands-on and interactive approach as well as providing ideas with personal connections to help in the mission is most effective for our audiences. Providing connections to their lives through our animals inspires both wonder and appreciation.       


The program messages presented through the DTZ Education Department were developed in conjunction with our mission statement, incorporating conservation messages developed by AZA’s Conservation Education Committee (CEC).


               WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT WILDLIFE– example messages


  • Make sure all six-pack holders are cut and put in the trash. Birds and fish can get caught and strangle themselves.
  • Be careful with helium balloons. Animals can swallow deflated ones and become sick.
  • Animals that were born in the wild should not be kept as pets. Make sure pet store animals are not threatened.
  • Leave wild animals where you find them.
  • Do not buy ivory or other products made from endangered animals.
  • Dolphins are killed in some fishing nets. Buy tuna that’s labeled “dolphin-safe.”
  • Join a group supporting animal rights and protection.
  • Learn more about threatened and endangered animals.
  • Do not litter or pollute.
  • Participate in the city recycling program.
  • Do not waste.
  • Conserve natural resources.
  • Reduce individual use of one-time-use plastics.
  • Recycle everything you can. Do not buy products that have a lot of packaging. Do buy products made from recycled materials.
  • Some of the most visible and unintended byproducts of our current economic system are environmental problems like air and water pollution and landscape degradation. Nearly all the world’s ecosystems are shrinking to make way for humans and their homes, farms, malls, and factories. WWF’s Living Planet Index, which measures the health of forests, oceans, freshwater, and other natural systems, shows a 35 percent decline in Earth’s ecological health since 1970.
  • Plant native plants in your yard and leave space for wildlife even on a small scale.
  • Read labels and purchase items that use sustainable yield palm oil.




Definitions: Species, Habitat, Extinct, Endangered, Threatened–put on board; discuss


“Endangered means there’s still time; extinction is forever.”


Causes of extinction:


               Habitat loss–cutting down forests, plowing prairie, growing suburbs


               Pollution–DDT, rivers


                       Illegal hunting, incl. for parts-ivory, furs & skins, feathers, medicines.


                       Pet trade--4 out of 5 parrots die before reaching pet stores.


                       Alien introductions --Nene geese, red-eared sliders


Do “Rare Scare” activity (Nature Scope) –talk about potential problems for each. Color if time.


Go back to tamarins–Why are they in danger?


Why should we care?


               Web of life–interactive game prairie dogs (ecosystem picture).


               See note below. We don’t understand how everything fits together. Tinkering analogy.


Medicine - 1/3 to 1/2 come from plants and animals; momore to be discovered


Food–90% of our food comes from 20 plant species, but there are 80,000 edible species.


All of nature has worth, beauty.


Most of the problems in nature are caused by people and population growth is projected to increase by 41% by 2050. Americans constitute 5% of the world's population but consume 24% of the world's energy. It is our responsibility to work toward solutions.




  • Do not litter or pollute.
  • Do not waste. People from North America, Europe and Japan make up 20% of the


                                     world’s population, but they use 80% of the world’s natural products.


  • Reduce, recycle, reuse everything you can. Do not buy products that have a lot of packaging. Do buy products made from recycled materials.
  • Limit use of chemical pesticides.
  • Do not encourage illegal hunting
  • Do not buy ivory or other products made from endangered animals.
  • Dolphins are killed in some fishing nets. Buy tuna that’s labeled “dolphin-safe.”
  • Do not contribute to the illegal trade of animals and plants.
  • Animals that were born in the wild should not be kept as pets.
  • Make sure pet store exotics were captive born.
  • Do not pick wild flowers or dig up plants.
  • Join a group supporting animal rights and habitat protection. (Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation)
  • Chickadee Checkoff
  • Urge your elected representatives to support laws that protect the environment.
  • Learn more about threatened and endangered animals, and share what you know with others.
  • Plant native plants in your yard.
  • Leave a place for wildlife in your yard.


WILD ANIMAL CONSERVATION (PRE-SCHOOL)   Adapt the conservation lesson to the preschool age by only talking about what we can do to help wild animals after first distinguishing the difference between wild & tame/domestic animals.


Gather many various animal toys representing wild and domestic animals in the center. Have preschooler divide them into piles of “Wild” and “Tame”.


Talk about why or why not each animal would make a good pet. What kind of needs does each animal have? If it is a wild animal, talk about ways we can make their home/habitat a better place for them to live and survive.


  • Compare the Domestic ferret to the Black-footed ferret.
  • Amphibians – use amphibian life-like models rather than touching live animals
  • Mammals, Reptiles, Birds – compare our program animals to animals that might be in a child’s backyard.
  • Birds –


               Be Earth Friendly – pick up trash, recycle, save water, use a reusable bottle for your water


Annual Educational Programs:


Spring Forward for Amphibians-


A special event held at the Zoo on the day of the spring equinox in order to bring about the need for conservation for amphibian species. By utilizing activities promoted by Amphibian Alert!, Frogwatch USA and Amphibian Ark.


               Activities included in the event:


*Amphibian facts/information with live specimens from the Zoo Education Collection including information concerning the Chytrid Fungus plight


*Hand-outs of simple ways the public can promote an amphibian-safe habitat in their own backyard


*Actual making of a toad abode/amphibian habitat with information as to why amphibians play an important role in the web of life.


*Other games & activities promoting hands-on learning of the life-cycle of frogs/their body parts and other facts that help keep amphibians alive in their ecosystem.


Party for the Planet –


In association with the AZA, it is a special event held on site on a Sunday around Earth Day in order to promote the need for conservation of the Earth as a whole.


               Activities utilized for Earth Conservation awareness include:


q     Water Cycle Game & Activity – basic knowledge of the water cycle, the importance of water to all, hand-outs and signs are placed throughout the Zoo listing ways to conserve water


q     Animal Habitat Conservation Activities – guest presenters and Docents are stationed with messages of ways to help conserve animal habitats, both world-wide and local. Examples of bird houses and nest structures along with information about the birds that utilize those man-made habitats is one example. The making of pinecone bird feeders is one way we demonstrate how to satisfy the need of food in the natural needs for food, water, shelter and space.


q     Recycling activities and information is dispersed to promote general Earth/non-renewable energy conservation. A mock grocery store is set up to educate the public about which goods use the least amount of energy to produce and leave behind the least amount of waste.


q     Education animal ambassadors that are in need of special protection/conservation are utilized in encounters with information concerning that need.


Zoo Camp


A week long camp for 3rd and 4th grade, pre-enrolled students. The Zoo Camp has two main themes that are alternated each year: “Endangered Species” and “Habitats”.


               Endangered Species


q     In the games played, activities and crafts done, every opportunity is turned into a conservation awareness lesson for animals that are listed on the endangered species list, used to be on the list and have recovered or are now extinct from the list. The students learn the reasons behind the listing, measures that are being taken to help conserve the animals and ways they can play a positive role in the recovery of many species through research of their own and hands-on applications.


q     The Sea Grant/AZA Project, “Aquatic Invaders” lesson is utilized in this camp.


q       Art integration




q     The students learn the main habitats in which animals live: grasslands, wetlands, forests and deserts. The main focus of the camp is one of the most endangered ecosystems: the tall grass prairie. The students learn the important role of each animal in the ecosystem and how they are all connected; what happens to the food web if one of those links is missing and how they can help protect that ecosystem.


q       Art integration


q     Each day’s lessons, crafts, games, snacks and activities are focused around a different one of the habitats. Easy-to-do-at-home habitat conservation activities are done: actual building of birdhouses, amphibian abodes, bird seed suet, etc. Water quality tests are performed by the campers on water from the major rivers running through their “backyard” and their tap water to demonstrate the need for water conservation in the habitats.


Safari Edventure Day


A state-wide Kansas Zoo Day used to promote science, nature, culture and environment to local grade school classes. Community volunteers set up hands-on learning stations to educate the students on these topics. The Emporia Zoo Docents set up a station utilizing and teaching the message from the “Aquatic Invaders” kit, Simulated Migration of Monarch Butterflies, and making plarn from one-time-use plastic bags. Other consistent guests have been the City of Emporia’s Horticulturist making Seed Bombs, Kansas Water Office – promoting water conservation in Kansas streams, ponds and lakes; Lyon County Conservation District demonstrating the importance of water for life; Lebo Green Team – “How to be a Green Recycler”; Lyon County Extension – the importance of insects and spiders in the ecosystem; Lyon County Conservation District – soil conservation/how to prevent erosion; Eisenhower State Park – conserving Kansas’ finest wildlife; Roger Wells, wildlife biologist – Kansas Birds/How You Can Provide a Better Habitat for Our Local Feathered Friends, Emporia Master Gardeners, Fishings Future—the love for and respect of being outdoors enjoying nature.


Keeper Impromptu Chats -


Impromptu chats between guests and keepers occur regularly and have the additional benefit of enabling zoo staff to share both conservation information about many rare and endangered species in their care, as well as their passion for conserving the species.


Endangered Species Day-


Docent, Angela Anderson, on site sharing info and pictures about the Black-footed ferret. She is set up in front of the prairie dog exhibit. We have also covered the tamarins’ exhibit to visually display SAFE animals and to tell the public that unless we do something, these animals will become extinct in the wild.


World Oceans Day-


Celebrated throughout the month of June in the classroom and through Docent in the Zoo. 2016 a local art teacher, Kristin Oberle, worked with docents and guests to make a mural to mosaic depicting an ocean habitat using bottle caps. Caps were collected throughout the year by visitors. Our conservation focus has been on one-time use plastics—reduce, reuse, and recycle and how our trash (from KS) finds its way to the oceans. SAFE included as part of our message.


Programs for energy and natural resources conservation:


The wise use of natural resources is an integral part of zoo operations.


In general, our efforts range from recycling and reusing a variety of materials, from paper products to scrap metal and electronics. When possible, we purchase items that have recycled content, paper products, benches made with recycled plastic.


As a City of Emporia entity, we utilize the City’s recycling center on a regular basis. The City has greatly expanded the program since its beginning in the late 1990's.


Conservation of water resources is accomplished by the use of timed irrigation system where appropriate, enabling night watering, and the use of mulch (often recycled content) for landscaped areas. Water in our duck ponds is recycled to offer a waterfall effect as well as to help with the oxygenation of the ponds.


Every effort is made to analyze options for new construction and repairs so that we maximize the use of durable, recycled or reclaimed materials, while maintaining fiscal responsibility to our constituents. Other programs or projects with resource conservation implications include:


$          Energy Usage and Conservation Audit- City wide internal analysis of energy use, conservation strategies was completed in 2018.


$          Composting of non-hazardous animal waste and animal food waste, and reuse by all city departments and general public.


$          Use of drought resistant native plants and water conserving materials in landscaping as appropriate.


$          Use of drip and times irrigation systems to conserve water and allow for more-efficient night-time watering.


$          Mulching mowers put clipping nutrients back into the lawn areas and completely eliminate the need to bag clippings and haul them to the landfill.


$          Tree and limb removal by city staff is made available to zookeepers, making them readily available for use as browse, branching, exhibit furniture, and enrichment items. Smaller branches are chipped and are utilized by various city departments as landscape mulch.


In conclusion, employees from the Director to volunteers are encouraged to suggest and implement strategies to conserve our precious energy and natural resources so that we provide a strong example of environmental stewardship for our visitors and community.