Fresno Chaffee Zoo Opens New Center for Blunt-Nosed Leopard Lizards

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In late May, staff from the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office attended the grand opening of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s Conservation Action Center. The Conservation Action Center will be the new home to the captive breeding program for the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard. 

“The opening of this center reflects the deep commitment of many partners to the recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act in California, including the blunt-nosed leopard lizard,” said Michael Fris, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “We have high hopes that this center will be a step on the road to recovery for many species.”  

In 2020, the Zoo joined the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Fresno State to collect blunt-nosed leopard lizards from the Panoche Plateau to create a captive breeding program. 

“The blunt-nosed leopard lizard breeding program is a catalyst for the Zoo’s impact in local conservation work,” said Fresno Chaffe Zoo CEO and Director Jon Forest Dohlin. “This is a major milestone for the Zoo. We have supported several conservation organizations over the years, and now, thanks to our partnerships, we are poised to become leaders in local conservation science to help save native California species.”  

The captive breeding program has been incredibly successful, with more than 60 young lizards being born under the Zoo’s care. 

“The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has been an incredible partner in conservation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The staff have made great strides with the blunt-nosed leopard lizard. This new center will expand on those efforts, giving listed species throughout the San Joaquin Valley a chance to thrive,” said Justin Sloan, Division Supervisor of the San Joaquin Valley Division in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation provided more than $750,000 in grant funding for the construction of the facility. Additional funding came from Measure Z, which directs a small percentage of sales tax in Fresno County to capital improvements and operation costs for the Zoo. 

 “It’s incredible to see the Conservation Action Center up and running. The grants that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation provided to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo are dedicated to helping endangered and threatened species in the San Joaquin Valley recover, and this center is a great example of one way that can be done,” said My Nguyen, senior wildlife biologist, in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, who oversaw the management of the grant for this project. 


Story Tags

Captive breeding
Endangered and/or Threatened species