Amphibian and Reptilian Breeding and Rescue Stations

To establish and maintain breeding and rescue stations for amphibians and reptilians in Vietnam


Vietnam has one of the richest amphib­ian and reptilian faunas in the world and new species are still regularly discovered. However, the herpetodiversity and its natural history is still poorly understood. In addition, many populations and species are facing de­clines as a result of habitat loss and degrada­tion, over-harvesting for food consumption, traditional medicine and pet trade. At its 2005 Annual Conference in New York City, WAZA committed itself and urged its members to address the global amphibian extinction crisis, which represents one of the greatest species conservation challenges. WAZA particularly recommended that each institution should also be involved in exotic taxa protection, preferably in range country. A top priority for the zoo community should therefore be to support existing, or to establish new, conservation measures and breeding programmes for endangered amphibian species. Although the zoo community already achieves a common, important task in building breeding facilities for selected species within their zoological gardens, the support of such facilities and centres in the countries of origin appears to be the most important.


Cologne Zoo's biodiversity and nature conservation projects in Vietnam, which are running since 1999, have encouraged close affiliations and contacts with regional and national partners and institutions. In a first phase, together with the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR) of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Cologne Zoo has engaged in the construction of a breeding station for endangered, rare or poorly known amphibians and also selected reptile species from Vietnam on the outskirts of Hanoi. In this breeding station, 14 poorly known or threatened amphibian species could be successfully bred and studied in terms of reproductive biology and larval development from 2007 to 2012. However, for several reasons, including land reallocation, the amphibian station in Hanoi had to be closed in 2012.


To continue with these important projects, IEBR subsequently has provided space in its Me Linh Station for Biodiversity, to relocate the husbandry and breeding projects. The Me Linh Station for Biodiversity borders Tam Dao National Park in northern Vietnam, and was established in 1999 by VAST for the purpose of rescuing, keeping, studying and breeding Viet­namese plant and wildlife species in an in-country ex situ facility. IEBR and Cologne Zoo have improved and extended existing facilities at the Me Linh Station for Biodiversity in order to be better prepared to keep and breed confiscated, endangered and selected rare or poorly known species from Vietnam. Here, research of husbandry parameters and natural history is conducted, captive assurance populations are built up for potential future release or restocking programmes, as it is the case for the Vietnamese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus), and services for environmental and conservation education for visitors, school children and students are provided.


In addition, since 2014, Cologne Zoo and IEBR cooperate with Wildlife at Risk's Hon Me Station, also to build up a rescue centre network. Here, staff training and enclosure improvement was conducted and a gecko house was built up to initiate a conservation breeding programme for the endangered rock gecko (Cnemaspis psychedelica), which is endemic to southern Vietnam's Hon Khoai Island. Cologne Zoo also provides further administrative assistances in Vietnam, such as staff training on amphibian and reptilian husbandry and management at Saigon Zoo, Ho Chi Minh City, or advising the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, Hanoi, in planning a countrywide rescue station.


The Vietnamese–German cooperation projects should guarantee the maintenance of the breeding and rescue stations, the construction of new facilities and the implementation of research and conservation projects. In addition, basic and advanced staff training takes place both in Vietnam and in Germany. In the latter country, the terrarium section of Cologne Zoo likewise focuses on species of the Indochina region, such as the helmeted toad (Ingerophrynus galeatus), which is listed in the Vietnam Red Data Book. Besides exhibiting, due to the new amphibian quarantine and breeding sections at the terrarium, Cologne Zoo also is well prepared for ex situ breeding, conservation efforts and research, such as documenting the larval development. 


WAZA Conservation Project 07012 is implemented by Cologne Zoo in cooperation with the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Hanoi, Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology, Hanoi, and Wildlife at Risk, Ho Chi Minh City.




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  • Amphibian and Reptilian Conservation

    Amphibian and Reptilian Conservation

    (1) - (3) © Anna Rauhaus, (4) © Thomas Ziegler