Conservation is a key component of Cosley Zoo's mission. We demonstrate our commitment to conservation on a daily basis by participating in environmentally friendly practices such as recycling, composting food scraps, repurposing materials rather than buying new ones, and installing energy-efficient lighting. We also participate in several large scale conservation initiatives.
Blanding's Turtle Head Start Program
Cosley Zoo is proud to partner with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, as well as the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Brookfield Zoo, and St. Charles Park District, in this program which works to help increase the wild population of Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) in Illinois.
Blanding's Turtles are medium-sized water turtles whose distribution is concentrated around the Great Lakes. Their population has been declining in recent years due to the loss of available wetland habitat. In addition, increased pressure from predators has caused a decrease in the number of turtles surviving to sexual maturity (15-20 years of age). In 2010, Blanding's Turtles were added to the endangered species list in Illinois.
The Head Start program aims to increase the number of Blanding's Turtles surviving long enough to reproduce. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County collects gravid (pregnant) turtles from the wild and houses them until they lay their eggs. After the eggs hatch and the young turtles are off to a good start, they are raised by Cosley Zoo staff until they are two years of age. The turtles are reared at an accelerated rate, so that when they are released back into a DuPage County wetland, the two-year-olds are each roughly the size of a naturally-reared five-year-old turtle, and should be less vulnerable to predators. The young Blanding's Turtles are not on display at the zoo in order to minimize their exposure to humans, but we do have an exhibit containing adult Blanding's Turtles which can be viewed by the public.
Links to more information on Blanding's Turtles:
- Cosley Zoo relies heavily on donations for the Head Start Program. You can help by becoming a "Blanding's Buddy" and donating money towards the care of the Blanding's Turtles. Click here for more information about the Blanding's Buddy program.
- Click here and here to read recent articles from the TribLocal on the Blanding's Turtle Head Start Program.
- Click here for a fun activity sheet with more information on Blanding's Turtles.
Zoo & Aquarium Partnership for the Great Lakes
Zoo Director Susan Wahlgren serves on the steering committee of this organization, which consists of 32 zoos and aquariums working together to promote preservation, protection, and restoration of the Great Lakes, and the animals and plants that depend on them.
The group recently launched a website titled My Water Footprint where visitors can calculate the effect their activities have on the world's water supply, and make a pledge to help with water conservation on a personal level. To visit this website, please click here.
Party for the Planet
Cosley Zoo hosts this annual event each April along with more than 100 other zoos and aquariums throughout the country. This is the largest combined Earth Day event in North America! Party for the Planet features conservation-focused activities for families and promotes ideas for establishing "green" practices in our visitors own homes. Check our Events page in the spring for more information about Party for the Planet.