10 endangered species saved from extinction by zoos

10 endangered species saved from extinction by zoos

#Taronga Conservation Society Australia

Posted on 22nd May 2017 by Media Relations

Zoo Conservation

Zoos across the world are helping keep endangered species safe from extinction. Here’s ten amazing species saved from the brink by zoo conservation.

Wildlife is in a fight for survival. The WWF found that there’s been a 58 per cent decline in populations of vertebrates between 1970 and 2012. But despite these shocking statistics, some endangered species are making a comeback thanks to the conservation work of zoos worldwide. 

Here are 10 amazing animals that might not still be here without the conservation work of zoos...

Arabian Oryx

The Arabian Oryx was hunted to extinction in the wild. However, from just a handful of animals in captivity the species was brought back from the brink thanks the conservation efforts of Phoenix Zoo and others. Through this incredible work, there are now over 1,000 of these magnificent animals back in the wild and thousands more looked after by zoos worldwide. 

California Condor

The California Condor was once on the brink of extinction — there were only 27 left. The birds were taken into captivity to begin a breeding program to help save the California Condor from extinction. Now there are hundreds of these huge birds in the Californian skies thanks to the dedicated conservation efforts of San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Przewalski's Horse

Przewalski's Horse is the only truly wild horse species left in the world. It comes from the grasslands of Central Asia, but was once declared completely extinct in the wild. But Przewalski's Horse has made an incredible comeback. Zoos have been working together to create a stable population across the world and now the Przewalski's Horse is being slowly reintroduced to its natural habitat.


Corroboree Frog

The tiny black and yellow Corroboree Frog only lives in a small sub-alpine area of Australia and have been almost wiped out due to a particularly nasty fungus disease.  But over the past few years, Zoos like Taronga Zoo in Sydney have been breeding a population of Corroboree Frogs behind the scenes which are now being returned to the wild in specially designed disease-free habitats. Australia alone has seen the extinction of six frog species in recent decades.  Thanks to these zoos, the Corroboree Frog won’t be one of them.


The Eastern Bongo is a large antelope that lives in a dense and remote region of Kenya. It’s an elusive creature and was one of the last large mammal species to be discovered. But it’s become even more elusive since poaching and habitat loss reduced the wild population to shockingly low numbers. There are now perhaps more Eastern Bongos in captivity than in the wild. Across the world, zoos are working together on a Bongo breeding program to maintain a viable population that will act as a safety net for this species survival.

Regent Honeyeater

This brightly coloured Regent Honeyeater from Australia relies on the nectar of a particular species of eucalypt treefor food. Unfortunately, deforestation has meant the loss of this important food source and now it’s estimated that there may be fewer than 1,500 Regent Honeyeaters in Australia today.  Thanks to dedicated breeding programs in Australian zoos and tree-planting initiatives, the future of the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater is looking more secure.

Panamanian Golden Frog

This stunning little Panamanian Golden Frog is also incredibly poisonous, a defence it uses to ward off predators. However, this wasn’t enough to protect it from a devastating outbreak of a fungal disease. It’s thought the frog has been extinct in the wild since 2007. But before this happened, a population was taken into captivity for safekeeping and a number of zoos have collaborated on a conservation project to keep the species safe from extinction.

Bellinger River Turtle

The Bellinger River Snapping Turtle is a unique species found along the Bellinger River in Australia. In 2015, 90 per cent of species was wiped out when a newly discovered disease swept through the area.An emergency response team from Taronga Zoo rescued 16 healthy turtles and began a breeding program to secure the Bellinger River Turtle population. In 2017, the first hatchlings arrived.

Golden Lion Tamarin

In its native Brazil, the striking Golden Lion Tamarin was in serious trouble due to loss of habitat from logging and mining, as well as the threats of poaching. Since the early 1980’s, there’s been concerted effort from conservation organisations and zoos worldwide to protect the Golden Lion Tamarin from extinction. Today, about a third of wild Golden Lion Tamarins came from those raised in human care.

Amur Leopard

In the wild there are only a few dozen of the incredible Amur Leopard left. Like many species, the Amur Leopard has been pushed close to extinction by loss of habitat, poaching and human development.  However, a breeding program started in the 1960s means 200Amur Leopards now exist in zoos worldwide, ensuring a future for the species. Reintroduction into the wild is difficult but conservation organisations and governments are working together to bring the leopard back to its North-East Asian habitat.

How is Taronga contributing to save endangered species?

We are committed to the preservation of our Legacy Species, ten critical species found in Australia and Sumatra.

And we are committed to protecting and sustaining wildlife in their natural habitats, and provide support for work in the field through national and international conservation partnerships, field grants and fellowships.

Visit our Conservation page via the button below to learn more about what we do. 


Find out more