Zoo news letterhead

May 17, 2013

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639 pr@stlzoo.org
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703

Saint Louis Zoo Honors Young Artist, Unveils Plans
for Reintroducing American Burying Beetles in June

The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation welcomed International Schoolhouse student Ava Bribriesco and 11 of her fellow kindergarteners from the Richmond Heights, MO, school to the Monsanto Insectarium for a special behind-the-scenes tour on Monday, May 20. The International Schoolhouse is a private, Spanish immersion school.

Ava, 6, is the grand prize winner of the National 2013 Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest, sponsored by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the International Child Foundation. See the art at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/637.html.

Ava’s artwork depicted the endangered American burying beetle, which the Zoo has for years worked to protect. May 22, she will be honored at a Washington D.C. congressional reception; her name will be engraved in a special trophy.

On June 4, 2013, 600 beetles from the Zoo will be reintroduced in Southwest Missouri. See press release.

Background: On June 5, 2012, 236 Saint Louis Zoo-bred American burying beetles were reintroduced in Southwest Missouri in the 4,046-acre Wah-Kon-Tah Prairie in St. Clair and Cedar counties.

Zoo-trained staffers and volunteers from the other agencies reintroduced the beetle through a project jointly managed by the Zoo’s Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; the Missouri Department of Conservation; and The Nature Conservancy. The beetles were placed on land jointly owned and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Nature Conservancy.

By the time this carrion feeder was placed on the United States federal endangered species list in 1989, the only known remaining population was in Rhode Island. Since its federal listing, surveys have shown beetle populations in six other states in the Midwest but none in Missouri.

“The beetle was last seen in Missouri in the mid-1970s, and for the last decade, the Zoo has been monitoring for existing American burying beetles but with no success,” said Bob Merz.

Surveying for the endangered beetles has been the focus of the Zoo’s American burying beetle conservation efforts for the past several years. “Our contribution to reintroduction efforts by returning the beetle to parts of its former range is the beginning of the recovery of this beautiful beetle,” says Merz.

For more information, visit https://www.stlzoo.org/conservation/wildcare-institute/americanburyingbeetleconse/.

About the International Schoolhouse.International Schoolhouse at 1414 Bellevue Ave. in Richmond Heights, Missouri, is a Spanish-immersion Preschool and Early Elementary school. Their aim is to help children become bilingual, to foster cultural awareness, and to nurture life-long learners. The school community is truly international, bringing together families that represent nearly 20 nationalities.

About the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation: Genetic work organized by the Center for American Burying Beetle Conservation provides a firm base for both reintroductions and breeding programs. The Center is involved in a number of important developments for this species. Through its WildCare Institute, the Zoo focuses on wildlife management and recovery, conservation science, and support of the human populations that coexist with wildlife in 12 conservation hotspots around the globe, including three in Missouri. www.stlzoo.org

About the Saint Louis Zoo: Ranked as America’s #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, it attracts about 3,000,000 visitors a year.