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Toronto Zoo Successfully Breeds Massasauga Rattlesnakes

Wednesday, August 6, 2014, Toronto, Ontario:

There is nothing to be rattled about with the recent births of three massasauga rattlesnakes at the Toronto Zoo. The births took place on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 and all babies are doing very well.

The three massasauga rattlesnakes will be joining the current managed population of massasauga's at the Toronto Zoo and may contribute their valuable genetic lineage to enhance the health of other assurance populations.  The Zoo’s massasauga rattlesnakes are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) conservation and breeding program that began in 2006 as a result of concerns over the decline of the massasauga rattlesnake population in Canada and in 10 U.S. states where it is listed as Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern.

“The exciting live birth of three snakes is the culmination of a year of environmental cycling  meaning we manipulated environmental settings to mimic exposure in the wild and the selection of genetically valuable animals for breeding,” says Bob Johnson, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, Toronto Zoo.

The Toronto Zoo has worked to save and protect massasauga rattlesnakes and Ontario snakes since 1989 and provides workshops for Zoo members and those living in areas where rattlesnakes are found. The Zoo also contributes to the recovery of this species and a team of recovery experts supports field research,  education and outreach programs and resources, scientific research, monitoring, development of shelter areas and ecosystem restoration. 

“We are particularly proud of our workshops here at the Toronto Zoo,” says Bob Johnson.” We provide workshops for those who want to learn how to live safely with rattlesnakes and appreciate their uniqueness as part of Canada’s natural heritage and also for Canadian Armed Forces staff as part of their Preventative Medicine Training.”

If you would like to learn more, stop by the Toronto Zoo’s Massasauga Rattlesnake Exhibit in the Americas Pavilion on Thursday, August 7, 2014 to meet Andrew Lentini, Curatorial Keeper - Reptiles and Amphibians at 11:00am and 2:00pm for a special question and answer session. This encounter is part of our 40 Day Animal Countdown in celebration of the Toronto Zoo’s 40th Anniversary. 

To register for the next Massasauga Workshop at Toronto Zoo please contact



Celebrating 40 Years Of Saving And Protecting Species At Home And Abroad. 


The Toronto Zoo is Canada's premier zoo and a leader in animal preservation and environmental protection. More than a tourist attraction, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats - from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except December 25 and attracts approximately 1.3 million visitors each year.


Toronto Zoo is accredited by CAZA (Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums). Look for this logo whenever you visit a Canadian zoo as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. For more information, visit



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