The Fort Worth Zoo joined a team of researchers in the release of dozens of endangered Louisiana pine snakes into a national forest in an attempt to revive their population.
Fort Worth Zoo officials said 50 snakes were released into the Kisatchie National Forest on April 22 -- Earth Day. Of the 50, 23 were hatched at the Zoo, which is one of only four breeding centers for this species.
The release was a partnership between U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Alexandria Zoo and Memphis Zoo.
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The juvenile snakes were safely placed into tunnels where pocket gophers, the snakes' main prey, live in the Louisiana forest, the Memphis Zoo said. Researchers hope the snakes will breed effectively, helping increase the species' population in the wild.
The Louisiana pine snake is native to the longleaf pine forests of Louisiana and Texas.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Louisiana pine snake is a non-venomous constrictor that usually grows between 4-5 feet long. Studies in East Texas and western Louisiana showed the snakes spend most of their times below ground.