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Endangered and Threatened Species

The Museum exhibits eight animals that are on either federal or state endangered or threatened lists or are protected:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Blackbanded Sunfish
  • Eastern Chicken Turtle
  • Eastern Glass Lizard
  • Eastern Tiger Salamander
  • Red Wolf
  • Shortnose Sturgeon
  • Wood Turtle

Red Wolf Species Survival Program

The Virginia Living Museum participates in the federal program to reintroduce red wolves into the wild. In colonial times, red wolves ranged throughout the southeast. Today they are the most endangered mammal in North America. The Museum is the closest facility to Alligator River, the only place in the country where red wolves currently live in the wild.

Lined Seahorse SSP

The Virginia Living Museum actively participates in AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) program that coordinates with other AZA – accredited facilities across the country to manage and conserve wild populations of the lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus). Through captive breeding and exchange with other institutions, we can ensure a genetically diverse captive population of seahorses without collecting animals from the wild. The VLM currently houses several successful breeding pairs of lined seahorses that regularly produce healthy offspring. These particular seahorses were born and bred here at the VLM in early winter of 2013 and have provided us with enough captive bred seahorses not only to display for many years to come, but also with a surplus of animals to send to other SSP facilities around the country.

Sea Turtle Tag and Release Program

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of the largest reptiles found on earth today. Listed as a threatened species, it faces the same threats as other sea turtles: heavy exploitation for its meat, eggs, shells and oil and from being entangled in shrimp nets, gill nets and on the hooks of long lines.

The Virginia Living Museum has exhibited Loggerhead Sea Turtles for many years. For several years we have worked with the Head-Start Program at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Juvenile sea turtles are acquired from nests in southern North Carolina and then raised for several years in captivity before being tagged and released into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Virginia Living Museum has released five turtles back into the wild as part of the Head-Start Program: Virginia in 2010, Abby in 2013, Abe in 2016, Coco in 2017 and Gingersnap in 2018. The first three turtles had tracking tags affixed to the top of their shell. You can follow their journeys and the journeys of sea turtles around the world on this website

Read about our Sea Turtle Tag & Release Program.

Turtle Census

In summer 2010 the Virginia Living Museum began a multi-year project to conduct a census of the basking turtles in Deer Park Lake at the Museum, using staff and middle school students. The goal of the study is to determine the ratio of non-native red-eared slider turtles to the native turtles that make the lake their home. In addition to learning about turtle identification, biology, behavior and threats to these animals, students have assisted staff in taking data on our local turtles. The turtles are collected in live traps and later released back into the lake. Students participated in the project in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Since 2013 the survey has been conducted by VLM staff and volunteers. Species collected: northern red-bellied cooter, eastern painted turtle, yellow-bellied slider, stinkpot, red-bellied slider and snapping turtle. Read more…

Monarch Rearing

When you visit the VLM from mid September to early October, stop by our monarch butterfly rearing chamber to see the caterpillars, chrysalides and adults on display. In the late afternoons you might be able to participate in our release of tagged monarchs.

You can follow the monarch migration on two web sites:

Also read about our VLM Butterfly Resources & Monarch Tag & Release Program.