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Zoo Staff Make Rare Find In Madagascar 


T. McCaskie, Toronto Zoo, fishing in Madagascar.

In September of 2014, T. McCaskie, Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care Keeper, returned from another successful field season in Madagascar working with Malagasy partners on an important fisheries conservation project to establish sustainable populations of endangered fish in the wild. This is the fourth field season for Tim to study freshwater fishes as a joint venture between Malagasy partners, Zoological Society of London and Dr. Paul Loiselle, Emeritus Curator of Freshwater Fishes, New York Aquarium.The Toronto Zoo has been part of a conservation program for Madagascar fishes since 2004.

The extremely rare Ptychochromis insolitus, a small perch-like fish, was a main focus this year. Originally thought to be extinct, this fish was collected during the 2013 field season and was confirmed by Tim, this year, to be breeding in a protected Madagascar conservation facility.

A small number of “insolitus”, along with five other rare Madagascar fishes, were brought to Toronto Zoo in September. The Toronto Zoo is the only accredited facility internationally to have a living population of this species. C. Lee, Curator of Fishes at Toronto Zoo explains, “These fishes, considered to be critically endangered by international authorities, are important for the North American Species Survival Plan Madagascar (SSP) and are currently in quarantine at the Toronto Zoo. Tim’s field work and our international partnerships are making a significant contribution to fisheries conservation”.

Another goal for the 2014 field season was to confirm the existence of a rare and critically endangered fish called Rheocles derhami. T. McCaskie reports that, “After considerable effort searching in remote streams, the team found what could be this endangered rainbowfish, but it could also be a new species". The unknown fish is currently in an aquaculture facility in Madagascar. T. McCaskie is hoping to return to Madagascar in 2015 where he will work with and educate the local villagers on how to sustain this particular fish population by creating a species protection action plan.

The Toronto Zoo would like to thank the following organizations for their support with this project: Durham Regional Aquarium Society, Canadian Association of Aquarium Clubs, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1600 and the American Association of Zoo Keepers


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