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David Hedrick from Chattanooga Zoo, Dr. Michael Freake and a student from Lee University, and freelance writer Charli Kerns, surveyed for Hellbenders in an undisclosed East Tennessee location. This stream had never been surveyed for Hellbenders before. The fish, mollusk, aquatic invertebrate, reptile, and amphibian diversity at this location was excellent, but yesterday’s trip yielded no Hellbenders…. There was lots of habitat left unexplored. One tool that helps us in our search of difficult habitats is eDNA sampling. Yesterday, we collected a water sample, that will be filtered and that filter will be tested for the presence of Hellbender DNA! This allows us to determine how to allocate research time and conservation resources. This season we received a grant from the Ron Geollner Hellbender Conservation Fund, through the Cryptobranchid Interest Group, to help cover a portion of the expenses of a field study we are conducting along the Cumberland Plateau. 

New Faces at the Zoo

If you’ve been to the Chattanooga Zoo recently, you may have noticed some new faces during your visit. Within the last few weeks, we have welcomed several new animals including a dromedary camel (pictured above), two capybaras, and an armadillo rescued from the wild.

As these new animals came into our family, we were saddened to see a couple of beloved animals go. Maliah (pictured below), one of our snow leopards, was transferred to Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I. on June 2, where she was recommended for breeding with another snow leopard as part of the Species Survival Plan. We also said goodbye Frank, a longtime riding camel at the zoo, who was transferred to Jo-Dons farms in Franksville, Wisc., to peacefully retire.

Start planning your next visit to the zoo to say hello to our new animal family members!

Cottontail Bunnies

Did you know that mother cottontails only visit their nest at dawn and dusk to care for their young?  The rest of the time, baby cottontails are left alone.  The mother does this to protect her young from predators.  If you come across a nest of cottontails and don’t see the mom, chances are they are not orphaned.  The best thing to do is to not disturb the nest and let the mom return to care for her young.  If you have any questions about rehab, please contact the Zoo’s Gift Shop at 423-697-1319 or email

Box Turtle Research


Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but did you know that some dogs are also great at finding wild turtles? Recently, students from UTC’s biology department and Chattanooga Zoo’s Herpetology Department enlisted the help of some furry friends to go on a turtle searching escapade.

The group met at the Enterprise South Industrial Complex where they caught over 10 box turtles (what is considered a great day for turtle finding). Students used detector dogs to help locate the turtles that were hiding in the woods. The dogs were so effective that they ended up finding more turtles than the humans did! Once the turtles were found, the group took measurements and did some preliminary research. The turtles were then labeled with transmitters, so that students could do further studies and track them in the coming days.

We thank our friends at UTC for continuing to promote animal research and awareness!  


Mia Mia the Cougar had a great Cinco de Mayo! We hope you all did, too!

Mia Mia the Cougar had a great Cinco de Mayo! We hope you all did, too!

Check out what this blogger has to say about the Chattanooga Zoo!

Come hug our bunnies on Hug-a-Bunny Day! On April 19th we will celebrate the Easter season and the arrival of Spring! Hug-a-Bunny Day activities include face painting, playing with real bunnies, education egg hunt stations, and more, and they are all FREE with regular Zoo admission. For more information please call the Zoo Gift Shop at 423-697-1319.

FrogWatch USA will be held at the Chattanooga Zoo on March 21st and April 11th from 6-8pm. For more information, please contact the Zoo Gift Shop.

FrogWatch USA will be held at the Chattanooga Zoo on March 21st and April 11th from 6-8pm. For more information, please contact the Zoo Gift Shop.

Feisty little lizard!

The largest salamander in North America is elusive and facing threats. Researchers are trying to find out what is leading to the decline of these amphibians.