September 20, 2021— The ABQ BioPark has established a Zoo-Park Partnership (ZPP) for America’s Keystone Wildlife to provide vital support in the recovery of New Mexico’s native wildlife at Valles Caldera National Preserve as well as new education and community engagement opportunities at the ABQ BioPark. The goal of these field conservation projects is to measurably increase native wildlife population size, health, viability, and habitat.
“This partnership pairs the BioPark’s wildlife and conservation expertise with the incredible habitat at Valles Caldera National Preserve to protect New Mexico’s endangered wildlife,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “We’re 80 miles away from Valles Caldera today, but we’re jumping at the opportunity to help preserve this national treasure for the wildlife that calls it home and the families around the nation who cherish it.”
Through the partnership, the BioPark will provide education and wildlife expertise, collaborating with the preserve in the conservation of wildlife native to the preserve, including native bees and bats, and at-risk species like the Jemez Mountains salamander, New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and New Mexico’s state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
The BioPark and the preserve join only eight other ZPP pairs involving National Parks across the country as part of the ZPP’s Project hosted by the Wildlife Restoration Foundation, and supported by the National Park Service (NPS) and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The five-year general agreement was signed on September 1, 2021.
“We are excited to leverage this partnership with the ABQ BioPark to enhance our ongoing conservation efforts to restore Valles Caldera’s important plant and wildlife habitat,” said Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, preserve superintendent. “This includes building bat boxes for our diverse bat community and native bee boxes for nesting habitat to protect this important pollinator group. In the future, we will collaborate on restoring populations of threatened and endangered species, as well as increasing public educational opportunities for wildlife ecology.”
Another focus of the partnership is to provide BioPark guests with up-close encounters with plants and animals, many of which are uncommon, secretive or rarely viewed in person at the preserve. The ZPP will use BioPark exhibits and education programs to deepen audience connections with native wildlife and to encourage active participation in local habitat and species conservation. BioPark and preserve visitors and volunteers will be invited to become conservation stewards and participate in restoration projects at the preserve.
“The BioPark is privileged to educate about the world’s incredible and imperiled animals and plants,” said Stephanie Stowell, ABQ BioPark director. “We are honored to contribute our expertise in husbandry, horticulture, veterinary care, and species conservation to make New Mexico a place where wildlife thrives.”
“Wildlife are part of the historical landscape our nation’s parks sustain and interpret. Zoo, aquarium and botanic garden partners contribute expertise and resources to help parks meet America’s wildlife health and population recovery goals,” said Julie Anton Randall, ZPPs Project founder and director.
For more information about Valles Caldera’s wildlife, visit the park webpage.
For more information about the ABQ BioPark, go to https://www.cabq.gov/artsculture/biopark.