The Sequoia Park Zoo incorporates wildlife conservation as an essential part of our mission. We help fund conservation field work, spread awareness about threats to wildlife and habitats, and inspire conservation action among our visitors. Although our zoo is small, we make a significant conservation impact!
Click the tabs below to learn about our Zoo’s many conservation initiatives.
The Sequoia Park Zoo works with the Yurok Tribe and many other agencies listed below to support the wild California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) in its historic territory in Humboldt County!
As the endangered California condors are scavengers, they were driven to near extinction in the 1980s primarily from swallowing poisonous lead ammunition pieces within shot animal carcasses. The population dropped to only 22 individual condors. Zoos have been breeding the remaining California condors since the 1980s and releasing them back into the wild at five locations. The California condor population has grown enough that we had the opportunity to reintroduce them locally at a new, sixth location on Yurok Ancestral Territory in Northern California in May 2022! The Yurok Tribe operates this program and has been instrumental in making this reintroduction a reality. The release site is overseen by Yurok Tribe Biologists.
The Sequoia Park Zoo plays an integral role in the Northern California Condor’s Restoration Program. The Zoo built and staffs a treatment facility for rehabilitating any sick, injured, or orphaned condors from the new population in Northern California. The construction of this Condor Care Center was funded by generous Sequoia Park Zoo donors, a State of the Birds grant, and through the Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation Program.
This new Condor Care Center will not be open to the public. For their safety, these wild condors must retain a healthy fear of humans, and we do not want them accustomed to seeing humans regularly or associating them with food. The building will be located behind-the-scenes at the Zoo and ready to help California condors any time there is an illness or injury, which we hope never happens! Unfortunately, we know that California condors at other release sites have still required human intervention to treat lead poisoning and other health issues, so our Zoo staff will be ready to act.
Sequoia Park Zoo staff already have extensive experience handling birds. However, Sequoia Park Zoo’s zoo keepers travel to train with experienced California condor teams in order to learn the care and handling techniques from zoos that have been working with the California condor recovery program for decades. Our staff have worked with Los Angeles Zoo staff at Bitter Creek Wildlife Refuge and with Oregon Zoo staff at their California condor facility.
Pictured: Zookeepers Nate Krickhahn, Lindsey Miller, and Ruth Mock training with California condors during their required examinations. To avoid unnecessary exposure to humans, our staff has opportunities to train with other California condor teams only when the condors would be otherwise handled.
Northern California Condor Restoration Program Participants:
- Yurok Tribe
- Redwood State and National Parks
- Oregon Zoo
- Oakland Zoo
- Ventana Wildlife Society
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Park Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- U.S. Forest Service
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- California Department of Parks and Recreation
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Los Angeles Zoo - While not technically part of this MOU, LA Zoo has been very supportive and helped train our Zoo’s staff!
Sequoia Park Zoo partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to support the recovery of rare coastal butterflies. Most of our work has focused on the Del Norte population of the Oregon silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta), one of the last five remaining populations of this federally threatened species. The Del Norte population occurs in the dunes and coastal prairies near Lake Earl, California, and its habitat has been badly degraded by coastal development and invasive species. We now also work with the Behren’s silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene behrensii), an endangered species that inhabits coastal terrace prairie habitat west of the Coast Range in southern Mendocino and northern Sonoma counties, California.
In response to a devastating population crash in 2016, Sequoia Park Zoo has cultivated techniques for captive-rearing butterflies, based on methods pioneered by the Oregon and Woodland Park Zoos. We collect eggs from adult butterflies, hatch them in a lab, and rear the caterpillars to pupae, which are released back into the wild to supplement declining populations. We are permitted to captive-rear Behren’s and Oregon silverspot butterflies to assist USFWS in their populations’ recoveries.
Pictured top right: Oregon silverspot caterpillars
Pictured at left: Releasing butterflies into the wild
Pictured bottom right: Chris Damiani with an Oregon silverspot butterfly resting on her finger.
One way the Zoo helps Oregon silverspots is to remove scotch broom from potential butterfly habitat. These woody shrubs are extremely invasive because each plant produces thousands of seeds each year, quickly overgrowing the meadows that support the Oregon silverspot’s host plant, the early blue violet (Viola adunca). Every April, Sequoia Park Zoo partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tolowa Dune Stewards, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation to organize an annual community work day to remove scotch broom from the Lake Earl Wildlife Area.
How To Help
The annual “Scotch Broom Bash” typically occurs in April and is a family-friendly community event. Spend the day with us at Lake Earl, cutting down scotch broom to create new butterfly habitat and meeting new people! Tools, snacks, and transportation from Arcata to Lake Earl are provided.
Become a violet volunteer! In the spring, our hungry caterpillars gobble down over 7000 violet leaves, and it can take 12-15 hours per week to harvest enough leaves to keep them fed. Volunteers work behind the scenes at the Zoo to pick the choicest leaves from our potted violets. The schedule is flexible, and caterpillar season typically runs from April to July.
Donate! The Butterfly Conservation Program is funded entirely through grants and donations, so all donations help keep us flying. When donating, you can note that your donation goes towards the Butterfly Conservation Program.
For more information about volunteer opportunities or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Chris Damiani!
Pictured below: Volunteers at the annual scotch broom bash.
Quarters for Conservation is an exciting initiative started in 2012 to boost the Sequoia Park Zoo’s contributions to wildlife conservation efforts. In 2015, the Zoo designated $0.25 from every admission ticket to help fund conservation projects locally and around the world. Beginning on July 1, 2023, the City of Eureka and Sequoia Park Zoo will increase their conservation donation to $0.50 per admission ticket. Visitors can vote for which organization their funds support. Every visit helps support wildlife conservation!
2023 Quarters for Conservation organizations:
Behren’s Silverspot Butterfly Program
Every year, the Zoo accepts proposals from organizations and individuals to conduct conservation projects worldwide. Our Conservation Advisory Committee rigorously reviews each proposal and grants 3-5 awards annually. Grant proposals are due each year in January, with the application becoming available to download about one month prior. Check back here for updates!
Pictured: Iberian lynx with tracking collar
Former grant recipient Fernando Nájera studied disease prevalence surrounding a newly reintroduced population of endangered Iberian lynx in Extremadura, Spain. As the project’s veterinarian, he used funds from the Sequoia Park Zoo’s Conservation Grant to capture, vaccinate, and release lynx and other potentially infected wild carnivores within the lynx’s habitat in order to prevent the spread of disease.
Sequoia Park Zoo is committed to supporting local biodiversity, and this begins with our plant choices. Native plants have evolved with local fauna for millennia, forming complex interdependent relationships that are the foundation of the world’s food web and biodiversity. California is considered a world biodiversity hotspot, with several recognized floristic provinces that overlap in Humboldt County, allowing an especially rich plant ecosystem to evolve. With ever-increasing human development and poor land management practices, most of our native plant landscapes have been fragmented and lost, resulting in a corresponding loss of plant and animal diversity. Planting natives in urban areas can help restore some of this lost biodiversity and ecosystem function.
According to entomologist Douglas Tallamy in his book Bringing Nature Home, native plants support 35 times the biomass of specialized caterpillars than do aliens, and twice as much generalist insect biomass. Alien plants can even be toxic to local fauna, and many are attributed to diseases fatal to native plants. Aliens can also easily become invasive, outcompeting and ultimately eliminating native plants and the fauna they supported. Native plants have evolved locally without the need for fertilizers, pesticides or supplemental water, making these landscapes less expensive to maintain, more resilient to detrimental forces such as climate change – they are the essence of sustainability.
Starting in fall 2017, the Zoo began replanting our landscaping one section at a time, with a goal of converting 90% of species to plants native to Humboldt County. A few exceptions to this rule will include Asian bamboo for feeding the pandas, domesticated/edible plants in the Café garden and Barnyard, potted flowers, specimens that have interpretive value, turf grass for gathering lawns.
You can join this important effort of conserving nature by planting native plants in your yard and garden, and encourage friends to do likewise. Even a few natives are better than none! Find native plants at local nurseries such as Samara Restoration Nursery on Dow’s Prairie Road, Lost Foods Nursery in Redwood Acres, Mattole Restoration Council Native Plant Nursery on Chambers Road in Petrolia, and the North Coast chapter of the California Native Plants Society on Myrtle Avenue in Eureka.
A special thank you to the Jalmer-Berg Foundation for its financial support of our Native Plant Initiative.
Native Plants Research
When the Native Plants Initiative began, the Sequoia Park Zoo’s Conservation Advisory Committee began studying how this zoo-wide habitat restoration project would influence which wild birds use the Zoo as a source of food, shelter, and nesting sites.
Since 2017, David Juliano (Humboldt County Department of Agriculture and Birding-by-Ear instructor for the annual Godwit Days celebration) and Ruth Steel Mock, PhD (Zoo Keeper and Director of Conservation and Research at Sequoia Park Zoo) have been conducting bi-monthly bird counts at sunrise to monitor the bird population at the Zoo.
Local artist October Mintey donated three pieces to the Sequoia Park Zoo to highlight three of the most common species of birds observed during this research. This research will be completed in 2022, and this art will be featured on signs at the Zoo that share this project’s results.
Pictured at left: One of our previous speakers, Chris West, holding a wild California condor as part of the California condor’s reintroduction program.
The Sequoia Park Zoo hosts a free annual Conservation Lecture Series from November-March. Our Conservation Advisory Committee invites speakers to share about conservation topics that are important to our community.
This free series can be attended in-person or virtually on the third Wednesday of the month. Attendees are encouraged to ask the speaker questions after the presentation.
The Conservation Lecture Series has been generously sponsored by Papa & Barkley for many years! You can watch some of our past lectures on our YouTube page.
Pictured below: Rogue Detection Teams’ Heath Smith and Jennifer Hartman spoke at the lecture series about working with conservation detection dogs to save wildlife.
You know that zoos play an important role in the conservation of wildlife habitat and endangered species, but did you know that Sequoia Park Zoo helps conserve resources in other ways? We implement many green practices and encourage you to do your part to conserve energy and resources.
The Sequoia Park Zoo diverts 55,000 gallons of green waste from the landfill annually by composting animal manure and bedding, leaves, wool, and grass clippings on-site. This special compost is available to local gardeners and may be picked up by scheduling an appointment at (707) 441-4263. We also compost gallons of kitchen scraps every week left over from preparing animal diets.
Zoo buildings utilize energy-efficient lights and appliances with programmable timers and sensors to reduce energy consumption. Groundskeepers use eco-friendly cleaners, and our facility uses paper products with high recycled content, which conserves forest resources. We reuse and recycle wherever we can, and we encourage our visitors to do the same by providing recycling stations throughout the Zoo.
These initiatives are supported through the Zoo’s Conservation Fund, with funds sourced through our Quarters for Conservation program, Roundup for Conservation program, grants, and donations.
Established in 2011, Sequoia Park Zoo’s Conservation Fund allows the Zoo to directly impact local and global conservation by providing financial support to select organizations and field projects. We award conservation grants each year, donate to worldwide conservation efforts, offer a free conservation lecture series, and contribute annually to field conservation efforts focused on species at our Zoo (currently Red Panda Network, Northern California Condor Restoration Program, Paso Pacifico, Proyecto Tagua, Proyecto Titi, and Save Nature).
Conservation Advisory Committee
The purpose of the Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Advisory Committee is to support the Zoo’s conservation mission. The Committee recommends conservation projects and organizations to support with the Zoo’s Conservation Fund, raises public awareness of relevant conservation issues, and proposes fundraising ideas for the Conservation Fund.
The Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Advisory Committee is comprised of Zoo staff, Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation board members, Zoo members, scientific advisors, and community members.
The Conservation Advisory Committee currently has 9 members:
- Ruth Mock, Ph.D, Director of Conservation and Research
- Jim Campbell-Spickler, Zoo Director
- Vanessa Blount
- Christine Damiani, Ph.D
- Lisa Embree
- Micaela Szykman Gunther, Ph.D
- David Juliano
- Candy Stockton
- Gretchen Ziegler