Ozark Hellbenders to be Listed as Endangered
COLUMBIA - Jeff Ettling, the curator of herpetology at the St. Louis zoo, gave a presentation Monday night on MU's campus about the Ozark Hellbenders. These are salamanders found only in the ozark region of Missouri, and are in danger of becoming extinct.
The decline in the Hellbender population is mostly due to water pollution and disease.
The St. Louis zoo is holding the hellbenders in captivity to study them and help them reproduce. The zoo is holding more hellbenders in captivity than any other instituion. The zoo tries to mimic the species natural environment as closely as possible. So far, none of the hellbenders have produced fertile eggs, but the future looks promising.
"That's very encouraging," said Ettling. "Whether they actually ended up reproducing is another story, but at least if they're cycling at the same time as their wild counterparts, that's very encouraging to us."
He also said the federal government will list the hellbenders as endangered this fall.