Hatching a plan • The St. Louis Zoo hopes to release newly hatched Ozark hellbenders — the first to be bred in captivity — into Missouri rivers and replenish the endangered large salamander sometimes known as a “snot otter.” The zoo has been working with the Missouri Department of Conservation for 10 years to try to breed the Ozark hellbender, one of two subspecies of the hellbender that is native to southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Hellbender and back again • The St. Louis Zoo announced today it has bred 63 critically endangered Ozark hellbenders in captivity — a scientific first. The hellbender, seen here just after hatching, is an ancient salamander whose numbers have plummeted by 80 percent in the past three decades. Scientists blame pollution for its decline. (Photo by Mark Wanner / St. Louis Zoo)
Venturing forth • The newly formed BioSTL, formally launched Tuesday and financed by some of the area’s premier institutions and investors, hopes to transform St. Louis into a bioscience powerhouse that will rival coastal competitors. In the past, St. Louis institutions have lured and nurtured first-rate researchers, only to watch them leave for Boston or the Bay area. BioSTL aims to lure investors here, as well as entrepreneurs.
Where the bears are • The Missouri Department of Conservation is engaged in a two-year effort to estimate the number of black bears living in the state. Sightings and anecdotal tales make it clear that the population is growing, said Jeff Beringer, Missouri’s chief bear biologist, but no one knows how many are out there. “It’s like walking up to a two-acre pond and saying, ‘How many bass are in there?’” Beringer said. “That’s about where we are at estimating bears.”