Endangered Species Program
Conserving the Nature of America

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Surveying for the American Burying Beetle
Produced by: Excerpt courtesy of "At the Zoo" by KMOV TV Channel 4
Partners: Saint Louis Zoo


This "At the Zoo" moment courtesy of KMOV Channel 4.

As a bright red-orange insect that embalms carrion with naturally secreted fluid, the American Burying Beetle is a necessary part of our ecosystem. These insects are responsible for recycling decomposing components back into the environment. Unfortunately, the American burying beetle has been on decline for many years now. Reasons for this decline are unknown, but evidence points to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Once found in 35 states, including Missouri, by 1989 the only known population was in Rhode Island.

With adequate research on what has caused this animal to become lost, the species may hopefully thrive in Missouri once again.

The Saint Louis Zoo is actively surveying to see if the American burying beetle still resides in the state, and through these efforts may one day discover a population of this endangered species. Additionally, the Zoo has started a successful breeding program that has already produced thousands of American burying beetles here on the Zoo campus. We are now working with other conservation organizations to reintroduce captive beetles to the wild, and helping convene leading experts through conferences at the Zoo.

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Last updated: June 23, 2011