Eastern Hellbenders ~
Eastern hellbenders are the largest species of salamander in the United States, growing to nearly 30 inches in length! These fully aquatic salamanders shelter under large boulders or rock slabs in clean, cool streams and rivers from southern New York south to northern Alabama, with the majority of healthy populations centered around Appalachia.
Populations of the hellbender have declined dramatically throughout its range in the wild primarily due to sedimentation of streams caused by deforestation, disease, and needless killing that occurred historically due to fears that the species was venomous even though it is not.
The Good Zoo was the first zoo in the world to hatch eggs from this species in a zoo or aquarium setting in 2007. Since that time, we have raised hundreds of hellbenders. At the zoo, we care for two hellbenders in a habitat in the zoo’s main building, and we care for nearly 200 hellbenders in behind the scenes facilities as part of our rearing and reintroduction cooperative conservation program with the West Virginia Division of Wildlife.