Conservation projects in Latvia

Reinforcement of Natterjack Toad population in Latvia

The Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita) is a protected species in Latvia, their numbers continue to decrease. In 2010–2013 a total of 338 young Natterjack Toads, bred in the Zoo's Laboratory of Ecology, were released into the wild in Garaiskalns protected nature area to supplement and strengthen the existing wild population there.


Rehabilitation of orphaned or injured wildlife

Riga Zoo takes care of wildlife casualties, rehabilitating them and, where possible, releasing them back into the wild. In 2008–2017, 377 wild animals where admitted to the Zoo's Quarantine station. 228 of them were rehabilitated successfully and 77 were released back into the wild.

Rehabilitation work is conducted both by the Zoo in Riga and Affiliate Cīruļi. For example, in 2002, when a severe storm in Southern Latvia destroyed many White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) nests and in addition to this a drought in July–August made stork's food source scarce, 21 White Storks were admitted to Zoo's Affiliate Cīruļi. 11 young were rehabilitated successfully, and nine of them were able to join the wild stork autumn migration to Africa. 

Since the space and resources of the Zoo are limited it is not able to provide help in all cases. A number of wildlife rehabilitation centers that have been created in Latvia in recent years are also prepared to help wild animals in trouble. The Zoo conducts education campaigns to raise public awareness and prevent wild animals from ending up in unnecessary captivity.


Birne I. 2017. Savvaļas dzīvniekam nepieciešama palīdzība? Ko darīt? – Latvijas Veterinārārstu biedrības ikgadējā konference 3.03.2017., Rīga. (In Latvian.)


Rehabilitation of orphaned seal pups

Riga Zoo undertakes the rehabilitation of stranded seal pups found on shores of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. In 1983–2017, 138 seal pups were brought to the Zoo. 66 of them were rehabilitated successfully. The rehabilitated seals were included in the Zoo's animal collection, sent to other zoos or released back to the sea. In 2002–2017 a total of sixteen rehabilitated young seals were released back to the Gulf of Riga. All individuals were equipped with flipper tags. There have been no reports that any of the tagged specimens has been found.


Di Marzio A. 2022. Results of GPS monitoring of grey seals rescued by Riga Zoo. Abstract. – In: Deksne G. (ed.). University of Latvia: 80th Scientific conference, Zoology and Animal Ecology. Abstract Book. 31 January 2022. Nature House, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia. P. 23.

Di Marzio A., Šķērstiņa R., Kalniņa M. 2021. Grey Seals at Riga Zoo: Conservation and education. Poster report. EAZA Online Annual Conference, 21.09.2021.


Ecotoxicological studies in Latvia

In 2019 we started with the collection of biological samples for ecotoxicological studies from orphaned seal pups brought to the Zoo for rehabilitation. The samples are analysed in collaboration with University of Murcia, Spain, and University of Latvia.


Puchades L., Gallego-Rios S.E., A. Marzio A., Martínez-López E. 2022. Trace elements in blood of Baltic gray seal pups (Halichoerus grypus) from the Gulf of Riga and their relationship with biochemical and clinical parameters. – Marine Pollution Bulletin 182: 113973.

Galindez Centeno I. 2021. Plomo, cromo y arsénico en tejidos internos y pelo de foca gris (Halichoerus grypus) del Golfo de Riga, Mar Báltico. (Lead, chromium and arsenic in internal tissues and fur of grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) from the Gulf of Riga, Baltic Sea.) Trabajo de Fin de Máster. Universidad de Murcia. (MSc Thesis, in Spanish.)

Puchades Guitart L. 2021. Mercurio y selenio en foca gris del Mar Báltico (Halichoerus grypus) y su relación con parámetros sanguíneos. (Mercury and selenium in grey seal from the Baltic Sea (Halichoerus grypus) and their relationship with blood parameters.) Trabajo de Fin de Máster. Universidad de Murcia. (MSc Thesis, in Spanish.)

Vīra S. R. 2021. Dzīvsudraba piesārņojums pelēkā roņa Halichoerus grypus audos Rīgas jūras līcī. Bakalaura darbs. Rīga: Latvijas Universitāte, Bioloģijas fakultāte, Zooloģijas un dzīvnieku ekoloģijas katedra. (BSc Thesis, in Latvian.)

Díaz Hurtado A. 2020. Mercurio y Selenio en foca gris (Halichoerus grypus) del golfo de Riga, Mar Báltico. Trabajo de Fin de Máster. Universidad de Murcia. (MSc Thesis, in Spanish.)

Vīra S.R. 2020. Dzīvsudraba piesārņojums pelēkā roņa Halichoerus grypus audos. Kursa darbs. Rīga: Latvijas Universitāte. (Term paper, in Latvian.)


A call to report Pond Turtle sightings

In 2005, a campaign was launched together with Daugavpils Zoo, calling on people to report all sightings of the rare native European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis). The project was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund of Latvia.


The Turtle Sanctuary

In 2010, a Turtle Sanctuary was opened in Riga Zoo's Quarantine station, inviting people to take their unwanted pet turtles to the sanctuary rather than release them into the wild. In 2003–2020, a total of 513 turtles of various exotic species were admitted to the Zoo. Most of them were Red-eared Sliders of various subspecies. The Turtle Sanctuary has helped educate people, as well as find new homes to the turtles arriving at the Zoo.


Bird Days

Each spring since 1952 Riga Zoo organizes Bird Day with Woodpecker's Workshop where visitors learn how to make nest boxes for different cavity nesting birds from materials supplied by the Zoo. Every year several hundreds of nest boxes for small cavity nesting birds (tits, flycatchers, redstarts) and starlings are made. Each year we also highlight the conservation problems of some rare species, and nest boxes constructed for this species are set up within protected nature areas in Latvia supporting the research and conservation of these species in the wild. These highlighted species have included Common Kestrel (2006), Goldeneye (2008), Barn Owl (2009), Ural Owl (2010, 2019), Tawny Owl (2011, 2012), European Roller (1013), Hoopoe (2014), Little Owl (2017), Boreal Owl (2018) as well as Forest Dormouse (2007, 2015, 2016). Among Bird Day supporters were Nature Conservation Agency, Latvian Ornithological Society and Latvian Owl Research Society.


Līdaka L., Di Marzio A., Lielkalns M., Graubica G. 2019. Bird Day at Riga Zoo – Tradition, Education and Conservation. Poster report. EAZA Education Conference, Skansen, Stockholm, 25.–28.03.2019.

Līdaka L., Graubica D., Lielkalns M. 2015. Emotion and event – two important tools in education and communication work in Riga Zoo. Poster  Report/How to inspire people to act – turning education theory into action. EZE Conference, Lisbon, 10.03.2015.

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