MBJ: Zoo plans snake breeding center
“After years of working with the Louisiana pine snake, theMemphis Zoo is ramping up its efforts to breed the species.
According to a permit filed June 2, the Memphis Zoo plans to build an almost $150,000 metal structure for breeding and raising Louisiana pine snakes. The new building will be located near the giraffe barn, outside of the zoo’s public areas.
The Louisiana pine snake is one of the rarest in North America, with fewer than 250 snakes now only found in six clusters in Louisiana and East Texas. The zoo’s Steve Reichlinghas been involved in pine snake conservation efforts since the ’70s and is the coordinator of the snake’s species survival plan, or SSP.
“Unfortunately, they don’t breed well,” says Laura Doty, marketing and communications manager at the zoo. “Because of habitat loss, their numbers are dwindling.”
As part of the new effort, the Memphis Zoo is recalling all Louisiana pine snakes at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. Those 108 snakes will then be shipped to just four institutions for breeding programs: the Memphis Zoo, the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, the Fort Worth Zoo and the Ellen Trout Zoo in East Texas.
Since the Memphis Zoo began breeding Louisiana pine snakes, it has released about 50 back into the wild.
To pay for the new breeding facility, the Zoo will be using funds from the U.S. Forest Service.”