A grant from the Delaware Zoological Society Conservation Grant program at the Brandywine Zoo provided funds to support a pilot project focusing on alley cropping reforestation in Kianjavato, Madagascar in collaboration with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership. The Brandywine Zoo is home to three of the nine species of lemurs found in this critical area in Southeastern Madagascar.

The island nation of Madagascar, located off the Southeastern coast of Africa, is home to many unique species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The forests that many of those species call home are threatened by habitat loss, which is fueled by deforestation and overharvesting. This habitat loss on Madagascar threatens not only the long-term survival of endemic wildlife such as lemurs, but also the millions of people that rely on subsistence farming and the forest’s resources.

The Delaware Zoological Society contributed funds to purchase necessary tools such as camera equipment, seeds, and reusable fabric pots for sapling trees. The Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership planted its five-millionth tree this year, and the next phase of the alley cropping project will continue in 2023.

Alley cropping is a method of agriculture that creates alleys between rows of trees and allows for crop plants to be harvested among cover crops. This method of agriculture benefits farmers who rely on harvesting crops while reforesting areas of native trees. By planting fast-growing trees for harvesting in spaced rows followed by slower growing native trees, farmers can harvest plants with less risk to the young native forest that provides essential resources to both local communities and wildlife.

When you visit the Brandywine Zoo, or become a member of the Delaware Zoological Society, the non-profit that supports the mission of the Brandywine Zoo, your admission fee and membership supports the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington and conservation projects in Delaware and around the world. There are many ways to support the Brandywine Zoo including by contributing to the Our Zoo Re-imagined capital campaign to fund the creation of modern animal habitats and update infrastructure at the zoo.

Since it’s official founding in 2021, the Delaware Zoological Society Conservation Grant program at the Brandywine Zoo has donated more than $7,000 to partners around the world. Other partners have included Kaminando Habitat Connectivity Initiative in the Guna Yala Indigenous Territory in northeast Panama, their work focuses on applied sciences and traditional ecological knowledge to help save Jaguars and their habitats. Funds this past year also supported Conservation Fusion in Andavakoera, Madagascar, supporting conservation though community income generation and education. Local recipients have included the Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators, as well as the Brandywine Zoo’s Field Conservation work.

To learn more about these and other conservation projects that received funds from the Delaware Zoological Society this year, or to get involved by volunteering or donating to the zoo’s conservation efforts, visit  brandywinezoo.org/conservation/

Brandywine Zoo, Delaware’s only accredited zoo by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is located at 1001 North Park Drive, Wilmington, Delaware. For general information, call 302-571-7788 or go online, brandywinezoo.org. Check the website for latest information for visitors. The Brandywine Zoo is managed by the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society.


tree saplings madagascar
Sapling trees are grown in reusable fabric pots and then planted by the reforestation team. DZS Conservation Grant funds were used to transport pots like these to Madagascar.

black and white lemur photo by vicki villanova
Black and White Ruffed Lemur photographed by Vicki Villanova. You can visit Black and White Ruffed Lemurs at the Brandywine Zoo.

Reforestation Assistant Jackson
Jackson, a Reforestation Assistant, holding a camera purchased using conservation grant funds.

Restoration Team
Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) restoration team thanking Brandywine Zoo for supporting the alley cropping reforestation project.

Seedlings being transported
Seedlings being transported to the alley cropping trial site on Tsitola Mountain in baskets made from locally sourced materials.