Saving Wildlife

Conservation In Action

Through Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center, patrons see tangible conservation efforts. The research supported by Topeka Zoo enables zoos all over the world to collaborate and help further the mission of conservation.

Topeka Zoo enriches the community through wildlife conservation and education. The zoo’s Conservation Committee helps to guide the organization towards practicing, promoting, and supporting conservation at home and around the globe. Our conservation work takes many forms including hands-on conservation work in the field by zoo staff, funding efforts of organizations, making our own facilities greener, and using our animal collection to improve conditions for endangered animals through research in cooperation with other zoos.

Projects We Support


Giraffe Conservation Foundation
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
Wildlife Conservation Society (96 Elephants)
African Wildlife Foundation
International Elephant Foundation
Build a Boma Project
Painted Dog Protection Initiative
Ruaha Carnivore Project
Cameroon Elephant Anti-poaching Project


Tiger Conservation Campaign
Orangutan Outreach
Asian Elephant Support
Turtle Survival Alliance

Central America

Monkey Bridge Project

North America

Grassland Heritage Foundation
Black Footed Ferret Reintroduction Project
SAFE Program – Vaquita
Monarch Restoration Conservation

South America

Zoo Conservation Outreach Group

AZA Managed Programs

The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific species within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, certified related facilities, and sustainability partners. In order to be an SSP, a population must meet requirements related to genetic diversity, population number, and the number of institutions that have that species at their facility.

Each SSP maintains a studbook that is maintained by a studbook keeper. This document provides information about the lineage, reproductive history, and transfers of each individual animal in a species population.

Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center participates in several SSPs including:

African Crested Porcupine
African Lion
African Elephant
Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula
Asian Elephant
Mountain Lion
Bali Mynah
Nicobar Pigeon
Black and White Ruffed Lemur
North American River Otter
Black Crake
Red-and-yellow Barbet

Black-footed Ferret
Red-capped Cardinal
Blue-crowned Motmot
Reticulated Giraffe
Blue-grey Tanager
River Hippopotamus
Bornean Orangutan
Scarlet Ibis
Crested Wood Partridge
African Painted Dog
Patas Monkey

Silver-beaked Tanager
Golden Lion Tamarin
Southern Three-banded Armadillo
Greater Malayan Chevrotain
Sumatran Tiger
Grey Crowned Crane
Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth
Trumpeter Swan
Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec
Violaceous Turaco


Monarch Butterfly Citizen Science at Zoo

Monarch Conservation

The loss of habitat available to monarchs has been measured at approximately 6,000 acres per day across the U.S. or 2.2 million acres each year.


Topeka Zoo is leading the charge to provide more habitat for monarch butterflies in the form of butterfly gardens on and off grounds. Topeka Zoo currently has 14 butterfly beds, covering 6,383 square feet of space, offering monarchs milkweed as their larval plants and flowering plants for nectar to feed adults.  The zoo is also currently pursuing off-grounds sites to establish even larger monarch-friendly beds in the community.

We are also coordinating the efforts of accredited zoos across Kansas. Education is key to raising the level of awareness about the challenges monarchs face, and to inspiring citizens across Kansas and throughout monarch migration routes to plant more monarch-friendly larval and nectar plants (milkweed and flowering plants) to provide more habitat for monarchs.


For the eighth year in a row, the Kansas Museum of History and Topeka Zoo have teamed up for the monarch butterfly migration! These beautiful insects migrate through Kansas during the last two weeks of September and we will be waiting for them! We want you to join us for FREE monarch tagging classes that are open to the public.

These classes are held at the Kansas Museum of History and are fun for the whole family! Each class will be from 5:30pm-7:30pm. The first portion is an indoor, interactive education program where audiences learn about monarch butterflies, their importance, and how to catch them. The second part is outdoors in the museum’s prairie, where participants will get nets to catch, tag, and release butterflies! The zoo will provide at least one butterfly net for each family to borrow; you’re welcome to bring a net too if you have one.

The dates are below:

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

Pre-registration required for all people attending the event. To pre-register, please visit the following link:

Contact 785-368-9137 or email with questions. Closed-toed shoes, bug spray, water, and long pants are recommended for this event.

Data collected from these classes will be sent to the citizen science organization Monarch Watch, which will use the information to help preserve and protect this beautiful species.

Ornate Box Turtle Project

The seven zoos in Kansas accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are working together to evaluate the ornate box turtle population across the state in eight counties.  The ornate box turtle is the state reptile of Kansas.

Turtles are the most threatened group of vertebrates worldwide.  Nearly 42% of turtle and tortoise species are threatened with extinction (Turtle Conservation Coalition, 2018). There are anecdotal reports of a significant decline in ornate box turtle numbers across the state of Kansas.

To guide conservation management decisions, new baseline population data is needed as the last study reporting population numbers concluded in 1956 and was not considered a viable study as it was only conducted in one county.

The project will be closely supervised by trained staff from the seven accredited zoos and will include a citizen science component designed to engage members of the public in hands-on, meaningful conservation science while increasing awareness and understanding of ornate box turtles. “Engaging citizens in species stewardship and conservation is a proven method of affecting behavior change and positively impacting wildlife,” said Topeka Zoo’s Director of Conservation and Education Dennis Dinwiddie.

Each zoo participating in the project will set up two census plots – one with known ornate box turtle observations (current or historical) and one where the presence of ornate box turtles is unknown. By surveying areas with historical records of ornate box turtles, it will confirm if those populations persist and assess their viability. Choosing a second census plot where the presence of ornate box turtles is unknown will safeguard against biased survey results that would occur if only sites known to contain turtles were surveyed.  Censuses will be conducted at scheduled times between early March to early November over the next three years.

This three year project will serve as the first viable ornate box turtle population study ever conducted in Kansas.  Data collected will be shared with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism and will be used to help guide future conservation management decisions regarding ornate box turtles at both the state and national level.

For additional information about the Ornate Box Turtle Project, contact Dennis Dinwiddie at or 785-383-6784.