Our Projects/Programs

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


Endangered Turtle Conservation Initiative
There are several species of native, endemic turtles that are considered “endangered”, “threatened” or worthy of “special concern” to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal government. They include terrestrial wood turtles, box turtles, semi-aquatic bog turtles, blanding’s turtles, aquatic spotted turtles, Plymouth red-bellied turtle, northern red-bellied cooter, estuarine northern diamond-back terrapins, marine Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, marine green sea turtles, and marine loggerhead sea turtles. The Buttonwood Park Zoo considers the conservation of these turtles a high priority and is actively working to implement their recovery into the 21st century. Conservation efforts are centered around head start programs, veterinary and husbandry assistance programs, educational programs, exhibits, and research activities.

Cape Cod Stranding Network/International Fund for Animal Welfare
Cape Cod/southeastern Massachusetts is home to over 20 species of marine mammals. Unfortunately it is also one of only a few places in the world where multiple whales and dolphins beach themselves on the shore.  These events, called “mass stranding” require rapid response in order to save as many whales and dolphins as possible.  For this reason, CCSN has a highly trained staff, a dedicated core of volunteers, and specialized response equipment that is always ready to go into the field.  Successful releases from mass strandings have grown from 14 percent in 1999 to 50 percent in 2007. Buttonwood Park Zoo staff actively participate in CCSN responses to isolated and mass stranding’s, providing veterinary and animal handling expertise.

Buttonwood Brook Stream Plant Restoration Project
Zoo staff, along with financial and technical support from the Garden Club of Buzzards Bay, have planted native plants to support resident wildlife.  The Buttonwood Brook illustrates to zoo visitors that degraded waterways can be successfully restored.

Butterfly Garden
The zoo maintains a seasonal butterfly garden designed to attract native butterfly and caterpillar species.  This garden has been developed through community collaborations with the Garden Club of Buzzards Bay, local schools, and local landscape architects.  The Zoo is developing conservation education messaging identifying the garden species and a take home message of environmental stewardship for zoo guests.

Junior Duck Stamp Program
Since 1938, waterfowl stamps have been required of anyone hunting ducks or geese. The funds generated from these stamps have helped restore and improve important wetlands and the stamps have become collectors’ items. Duck stamps are one of the most successful wildlife restoration programs in the history of this nation! The Junior Duck Stamp Program was launched in 1991 by the US Fish & Wildlife Service with the aim of increasing young people’s awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats and the delights of wildlife. In 1992, the US Fish and Wildlife Service printed the first ever Junior Duck Stamp with the funds going towards scholarships and educational grants. The Buttonwood Park Zoo is an annual exhibitor of the state winners of the Junior Duck Stamp Program. We work with Mass Wildlife (our state fisheries and wildlife agency) to promote this federal program.

Homes for Birds
In 2013, the zoo collaborated with Global Learning Charter Public School’s 5th grade science teacher to create a habitat-based public service project for her students. The student teams did independent research and then visited the zoo to learn about screech owls, wood ducks and native songbirds. The students then created nest boxes to accommodate various species. Several boxes were installed in Buttonwood Park and several were donated to the zoo for use on zoo grounds. The students created “learning boards” to share their knowledge about habitats, diets, behavior and other elements of natural history. The boxes and the learning boards were displayed at the zoo. The project will continue next year with the class working with a Massachusetts Audubon sanctuary and creating nest boxes for different species, which will be used at a Massachusetts Audubon site.



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

  • Bear Awareness Day
  • International Migratory Bird Day
  • Vulture Day
  • Elephant Appreciation 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 conserve 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.

Earth Week
Earth Week/Party for the Planet is celebrated every year at the Buttonwood Park Zoo. The zoo provides unique programming each day with a focus on what families can do to reduce their impact on the environment. The zoo has partnered with other local conservation organizations to present information to zoo guests. Some of our community partners have been:

  • The South Coast Energy Challenge – This local group encourages families to sign up for free energy audits and a free solar assessment. In 2012, the group had its largest response to a public information day, signing up 36 families at the zoo event for free energy audits.
  • The Southeast Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) –  This group focuses on the promotion of locally-grown and organic food. Locally grown food keeps money in the local economy and preserves farmland and open space for all.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Invasive Species Project – A human-sized Asian long horn beetle handed out beetle tattoos to children and spoke with parents about the importance of not relocating firewood in Massachusetts. The Asian long horn beetle is a big environmental threat in Massachusetts, having been found in the wild in Worcester and Boston.