Back from the Brink: behind-the-scenes conservation stories

All of your donation impact stories and videos are here.

Discover stories and videos about the wildlife you're helping to save through your monthly donation, told by our teams at the forefront of conservation projects around the world and ground-breaking programmes at London and Whipsnade Zoos. Hear about the animals you know and love, as well as some that you haven’t yet heard of.

So that you don't miss a thing, you can look back at previous donor email stories at any time on this page.

 

Videos

 

  • Saving black rhinos in Kenya

Between 1970 and 1990, black rhino numbers in Kenya plummeted from over 20,000 to just 350, due to illegal poaching, habitat loss and degradation. Since then, ZSL and our partners in Kenya have been working to bring the black rhino back from the brink. This collaborative effort has significantly improved the outlook for this much-loved species, as Moses Wekesa, our field manager in Kenya, explains in this video.

 

  • Critically Endangered big-headed turtles

While they may not be conventionally cute to most people - with their oversized heads and long, whip-like tails - big-headed turtles represent a vitally important and unique branch of the evolutionary tree and have much to teach us about animal adaptions. There is literally no other species like them on earth, and they are at risk of becoming extinct.

Four big-headed turtles arrived at ZSL London Zoo after they were discovered being smuggled into Canada illegally for the pet trade, labelled as toys. The turtles are currently being cared for behind-the-scenes at London Zoo, and now their keepers are reintroducing the adult turtles in the hope that they’ll successfully breed.

In the field, ZSL works with the Asian Turtle Program of Indo-Myanmar Conservation to help implement vital health screening protocols ensuring the safe release and rehabilitation of big-headed turtles at reintroduction sites, to help secure a future for this totally unique species.

Watch our video to hear more about this important work from Kim Carter, Reptile and Amphibian Keeper at ZSL London Zoo.

 

  • Reintroducing hazel dormice to UK woodlands

Once common across the UK, hazel dormice are now considered at risk of extinction due to woodland habitat loss and mismanagement. But thanks to ZSL, working with our conservation partners, we've managed to successfully reintroduce over 1,000 dormice into 13 UK counties. 

Watch our new video to hear from ZSL's Georgina Gerard and Dr Tammy Shadbolt and follow the journey of 30 hazel dormice that we reintroduced to British woodland last month, from quarantine at London Zoo to their new forever home.

 

  • Oysters - our ocean superheros

Native oysters provide huge benefits to coastal UK waters by helping to clean seas and their nurseries provide an important habitat for many species of marine wildlife. But these unlikely ocean superheroes are in trouble, with UK populations declining by over 95%, our vital work has already seen 4,000 oysters filtering clean the equivalent of almost half a million bathtubs of seawater!

Watch our video to hear from Celine Gamble, ZSL's Oyster Restoration Network Coordinator, on how we're returning oysters to UK waters.

 

  • Saving the world’s largest living amphibian: the Chinese giant salamander

Overhunting for human consumption has had a catastrophic effect on Chinese giant salamanders.

Hear Keeper Kim Carter explain how we're working with local people to conserve these aquatic giants in the wild and see an exclusive clip of how we're training a Chinese giant salamander at London Zoo that was rescued from illegal trafficking.

This training is a first for amphibians, and as well as supporting the care of the salamanders at the Zoo, it helps us learn more about the species.

 

  • Partula snails: how do you save Extinct-in-the-Wild species?

Hear how we’re helping to return two species of Extinct-in-the-Wild tropical snails to their native homeland in French Polynesia, after they were wiped out by a human-introduced invasive species.

 

  • Freshwater fish: behind-the-scenes at Whipsnade Zoo aquarium 

Our aquarium at Whipsnade Zoo is dedicated to protecting freshwater fish, including some species that are sadly Extinct-in-the-Wild.

In this video, Alex Cliffe, our Ectotherm Team Leader, explains how we're ensuring the survival of these species through breeding programmes at the Zoo, and by monitoring fish species in the wild, partnering with local people to protect existing habitats, moving some populations to new, safer locations.

 

Interviews, blogs and articles

 

  • Behind-the-scenes at a unique kestrel conservation project in Mauritius.

Mauritius kestrels

Once the rarest bird in the world, Mauritius kestrels are gradually returning to the forests and mountains of Mauritius. Jaz Sinclair, tropical bird keeper at London Zoo, tells us about her time as part of an incredible conservation project, and what it was like to live cheek-to-beak with a lot of lively hatchlings – from serving up rodent three ways, to running a ‘kestrel crèche’.

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  • Saving the last wild horses on earth 

Przewalski's horses

Adam Davinson, Senior Keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, reveals how a breeding programme at Whipsnade Zoo has helped to save the majestic Przewalski’s horse – the last wild horse on earth.

Discover more

 

  • An evolutionary wonder: the Lake Oku frog

Lake Oku frog

Hear from London Zoo Keeper, Charli Ellis about the Lake Oku frog - an evolutionary wonder that's only found in one lake! It's an incredible story of hope for a unique and Critically Endangered amphibian.

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  • Masters of the sea: sharks and rays under threat

Great hammerhead shark

Sharks are facing their toughest challenge yet – humans. Take the plunge with us to discover some of the world’s most unique and threatened sharks, and find out how we are helping to safeguard the future of this ancient group of animals.

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  • Notes from the field: saving pangolins in Vietnam

ZSL Vet Sophie caring for an injured pangolin in Vietnam

ZSL senior veterinary nurse Sophie Sparrow tells us about her time at the Save Vietnam’s Wildlife centre in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam, to help pangolins rescued from traffickers.


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  • Is this the last straw for the world's last wild camels?

A wild camel

Wild camels are the 8th most endangered mammal on the planet, with less than 1,000 now left in the wild. We chatted to ZSL's Bolor Radnaabazar, Tungaa Ulambayar and Bilguun Batkhuyag in Mongolia to find out why your support is so crucial…

Find out more

 

  • African grey parrots:talk about an endangered species!

African grey parrot

Wildlife’s greatest mimic of human speech, the African grey parrot is one of the smartest birds on the planet. ZSL’s Dr Andrew Fowler explains why these majestic and super-intelligent creatures are under threat and the vital work being done to save them…

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