American Burying Beetle Repopulation Project

American Burying Beetle Repopulation Project

American burying beetle in hand
The American burying beetle, like other invertebrate species, serves as an “indicator species.” Its decline alerts scientists to dangerous changes in the habitat.

Honors for RWP Zoo’s ABB Project

AZA Top Ten Conservation Success Stories 
AZA Edward H. Bean Award
Selection as leader of the ABB Species Survival Plan

AZA North American Conservation Award

Louis Perrotti, Director of Conservation Programs
(401) 785-3510 ext. 335

Roger Williams Park Zoo (RWPZ) is the national headquarters for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’(AZA) American Burying Beetle (ABB) Species Survival Plan (SSP). RWPZ Director of Conservation Programs, Lou Perrotti, leads the national SSP.

In the early 1990s, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) initiated a project to capture ABB mating pairs from Block Island and attempt to rear them in captivity, with the aim of repopulating them in a former habitat. Husbandry and breeding techniques for captive ABB were developed at the Boston University by Adrea Kozol. during the first years of the project

RWPZ joined the project in 1994 and in 1995 became the sole breeding facility for the American burying beetle recovery program. Since then we have continuously contributed a breeding facility and expert keeper staff, husbandry and breeding data, and field support to the project. We have reared over 5000 ABB’s at our facility and released over 2800 in Nantucket, MA. The ABB population has stabilized and most likely is growing so it appears that our reintroduction efforts have successfully established an ABB population on Nantucket Island. 

In 2006, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums created a Species Survival Plan for the ABB, the first for a terrestrial invertebrate. Lou Perrotti was selected to direct this program which has expanded to 2 other participating Zoos.