The Eastern Hellbender, also known as the hellbender salamander, is a species of giant salamanders endemic to eastern North America and fills a particular niche as predator and prey in its ecosystems. Considered a “habitat specialist,” hellbenders are generally found in areas with large, irregularly shaped rocks and swiftly moving water.
Research throughout the range of the hellbender has shown a dramatic decline in populations in the majority of locations. Conservation efforts include species habitat preservation and breeding programs at local zoos.
This Friday, Nov. 15, Mr. Phil Colclough, Director of Animal Collections and Conservation at the Knoxville Zoological Gardens, will present “Eastern Hellbender Conservation and the New Role of Zoos” at the UT Science Forum.
Zoos have changed dramatically in the past decade from purely entertainment venues, to true conservation-focused organizations. Learning to balance the two is an ongoing process for all zoos in the modern era. Hellbender conservation efforts supported by Knoxville Zoo is but one example of this new philosophy in the current zoo world.
The presentation begins at 12 p.m. in the UT Thompson-Boling Arena Café, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A.