North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) hosted its inaugural event, “A Night with Newts!” in a new Seminar Series to bring awareness to the variety of conservation work happening in our region. “This new seminar series will be a great way for people to learn more about the environment and why we do what we do,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “We will be partnering with environmental groups around the region to increase awareness to the variety of plant and animal species throughout our region that are impacted by conservation.”
The first event in the series took place on September 5th at Manifest Distilling in Jacksonville, and highlighted the conservation work being done by the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Approximately thirty guests arrived early for a tour of Manifest Distilling and their nice facility on Forsyth Street in downtown Jacksonville. After the tour, everyone was able to taste the distilled spirits crafted on site and mingle in the modern and newly designed tasting room adjacent to the distillery. Hors d’oeuvres were provided and after some conversation, the guests made their way to a seat for the seminar.
Mark Beshel, Senior Herpetology Keeper and the evening’s presenter, discussed the detailed process of breeding striped newts in the Zoo’s amphibian conservation center to their release into ephemeral ponds. Over the past five years, the Zoo has been breeding striped newts for their release into northwest Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest to bolster their wild populations. Since the program’s inception, the Zoo has released over 1,500 newts into the wild.
It was fascinating to learn about the breeding process and fragility of such a delicate and near threatened species. Everyone left with a greater understanding of the in-depth process of conservation breeding and the great work that the Zoo is doing to ensure the survival of a species.
NFLT is grateful to the Zoo for partnering on this event, and looks forward to showcasing even more work being done toward the conservation of our region. Stay tuned!
Photographs by Anita Frattle Levy