Our Projects/Programs

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is involved in a variety of local and international conservation efforts.


Karner Blue Butterfly    mQBUzS3bRMGf5Nyb8DkVWR4H
The Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a small butterfly that lives in pine barren and oak savanna ecosystems. Historically they were found in many northern states, however they are now only found in parts of New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Minnesota. This beautiful butterfly is endangered mainly due to habitat loss and degradation resulting from land development and lack of natural disturbance such as wildfire and grazing by large mammals. Karner blue butterflies must lay their eggs on the leaves of one specific plant, the wild lupine plant (Lupinus perennis). Lupine is the only plant the hatched larvae can eat. This severely restricts where they can survive. Once the larvae transform into adults, they can then feed on the nectar of flowering plants.?

The Karner blue butterfly’s annual life cycle is harmoniously tied to that of the lupine plant which therein lies the problem. Lupine plants are unique in that they require wildfires to germinate and they thrive in areas that are periodically disturbed, which reduces or eliminates overhead canopies and plant competition. Nowadays, wildfires and controlled burns are not commonly practiced which limits the important habitat for Karner blues.

DSCN3415The future for the Karner blue butterfly lies in active management to simulate the historic role of fire in maintaining oak savanna and pine barren habitats. The Buttonwood Park Zoo has worked with the New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife Service in a partnership to protect this endangered butterfly, the wild lupine, and the ecosystems upon which both depend. Zoo staff worked with their ZooCrew campers to plant, grow and transport over 150 lupine plants as part of the habitat restoration project for the endangered butterfly to create a place for this rare butterfly to lay its eggs in the spring.



Butterfly Garden
Butterfly Garden 050The Zoo maintains a seasonal butterfly garden to attract local pollinators, as well as two active beehives. We work with Buzzards Bay Garden Club, New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, Bristol County Beekeepers Association, Friends of Buttonwood Park, local schools, and Monarch Watch to design habitat and develop programs to help local pollinators while educating the public about their importance.



Coins for Conservation
Your vote can change the world!

Coins for Conservation is an exciting initiative that greatly enhances our wildlife conservation work. Through the collection of quarters, we’ll provide funding for new and existing wildlife conservation projects. This program provides an opportunity to engage our staff and our community while also significantly expanding our contributions to wildlife conservation in our backyard and around the world.

Make a donation today that goes directly towards Coins for Conservation and the support of critical wildlife conservation programs!


Since its inception, Coins for Conservation has raised over $70,000! The following projects have received funding thanks to our caring and generous visitors.

  • Atlantic White Shark Conservancy
    The Conservancy’s vision is to increase knowledge of Atlantic white sharks and change public perception to conserve the species and ensure biologically diverse marine ecosystems.
  • Belize Audubon Society
    Working alongside other AZA zoos, we have been able to support the Belize Audubon Society in hiring two staff for the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary that was established for the protection of jaguars. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is recognized internationally as the world’s first jaguar preserve as well as a reservoir for biodiversity.
  • Birds Caribbean
    This organization helps conserve Caribbean birds and their habitats. The Zoo’s donation will help us to grow their flagship outreach and education programs, train and mentor conservation professionals, support research and monitoring, and help carry out local level conservation actions.
  • Brazilian Merganser Recovery Program
    The elusive Brazilian Merganser not only ranks among the most endangered of all waterfowl, but rarest of all birds as well. Possibly fewer than 250 birds remain, making this Critically Endangered species in need of our help. The river habitat required by the Brazilian merganser has suffered from staggering deforestation and permanent flooding from dams. Sylvan Heights Bird Park and the International Wild Waterfowl Association are helping Brazilian organizations who work with this species by successfully hatching and raising wild Brazilian mergansers to help bolster wild populations in the future.
  • East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership
    This dynamic program works to save and protect migratory waterbirds, their habitat and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them. There are currently 35 Partners including 17 countries, 6 intergovernmental agencies, 11 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and one international private enterprise. The Buttonwood Park Zoo currently supports the Scaly-sided Merganser Task Force by funding non-invasive video monitoring of artificial nest sites. The Zoo will continue to support this task force with various projects through an annual donation.
  • Elephant Family Asian Elephant Conservation
    The Elephant Family, a conservation organization, based in London exists to save this iconic animal from extinction in the wild, along with tigers, orangutans and all the other animals who share their habitat. Working with local people and partner non-government organizations, they currently fund 20 projects across Asia and invest where they are needed most: to protect habitat, prevent conflict and reconnect the forest homes of the endangered Asian elephant.
  • National Marine Life Center of Cape CodIMG_5032
    The National Marine Life Center in Bourne, MA is a marine animal hospital and science and education center dedicated to rehabilitating for release stranded sea turtles, seals, dolphins, porpoises, and small whales, and to advancing scientific knowledge and education in marine wildlife health and conservation.
  • Proyecto Titi
    Proyecto Tití works to conserve the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin through a multi-disciplinary on-site conservation program that combines field research, education initiatives and community programs to make the conservation of natural resources economically feasible for local communities in Colombia. The Zoo has supported this organization by purchasing titi posts which not only saves critical tamarin habitat, but reduces and recycles plastic in the environment. The Zoo’s gift store also sells bags, bracelets and stuffed animals made by the local communities to generate an income and build successful eco-friendly businesses.
  • Save the Golden Lion Tamarin
    Their main goals include filling suitable forests with golden lion tamarins, planting forest corridors to reconnect forest fragments, educate and involve the local community, and monitor and protect all wild golden lion tamarins and their forest. The Zoo has helped support this organization by growing approximately 100 trees to help reforestation efforts in Brazil.
  • The Center for Research and Conservation of Sea Turtles (CICTMAR)
    This conservation education program focuses on protecting sea turtles at their nesting grounds on the Paira Peninsula, on the far eastern edge of Venezuela. Leatherback, loggerhead, green and hawksbill sea turtles are protected while they make their way to the nesting sites. Once the eggs are laid, they are transferred to fenced hatcheries to protect them from high tides and poachers. In addition to protecting and releasing the hatchlings, females are also tagged and measured for participation in a long-term study.
  • The Muriqui Project of Caratinga
    The northern muriqui is one of the most critically endangered primates as the result of hunting and widespread destruction of its forests. Today 300 muriquis live at the privately owned and federally protected reserve near Caratinga, Brazil, up from 50 in 1983.  The Muriqui Project helps regenerate the forest, create corridors to connect forest fragments, and preserve and manage all conservation, research and education activities at the preserve.
  • Vaquita Rescue Project
    The vaquita porpoise is on the verge of extinction with fewer than 30 remaining due to drowning in illegal fishing nets. The Buttonwood Park Zoo, along with many AZA accredited zoos and aquariums, joined together to support the AZA’s SAFE program in an effort to save this species from extinction.
  • Vietnam Elephant Initiative
    The Vietnam Elephant Initiative is committed to supporting the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre to protect a sustainable wild population of elephants in Vietnam, provide high standards of care for captive elephants, and end the use of elephants for riding, circuses and shows. The Zoo has purchased a portable scale to help manage and care for orphaned elephants.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Program 20150501_093754edit
    The Zoo provides professional care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals so they can be returned to their natural habitat or be provided with a safe forever home here at the Zoo. Your donation helps offset the cost of the medicine, supplies, and staffing needed to allow for these animals to flourish once again. When release is not an option, our Animal Ambassador Program allows them to become an instrumental component of our wildlife education programs and provides a home to many native animals that would have otherwise not survived in the wild.


Species Awareness Days
During these special species awareness days, zoo staff highlights the species by bringing special attention through additional keeper talks, education programs, and enrichment activities highlighting important facts and conservation messages

  • Endangered Species Day
  • World Oceans Day
  • Vulture Awareness Day
  • International Red Panda Day
  • National Elephant Appreciation Day
  • World Wildlife Day


Frog Watch USA
FrogWatch USA is AZA’s flagship citizen science program that invites individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserveDSC01921 amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads.” – AZA FrogWatch. The Frogwatch program began in response to a noticeable decline in frog and toad populations across the country and around the world. The idea was to gather scientifically creditable data to prove such a decline was in fact occurring while at the same time educating the public about amphibians and the probable causes for their recent declines. The Buttonwood Park Zoo supports the Frog Watch initiative by hosting public training sessions. Please visit our Frog Watch page for more information.