Columbus Zoo And The Wild Receive Award

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The Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center is doing some award-winning work.

So says the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which recently handed out a North American Conservation Award praising the Mussel Center's efforts.

Doctor Barb Wolfe is Director of Wildlife and Conservation Medicine at the Wilds, which is located in Muskingum County.

She helps run the Mussel Center and explains that it's purpose is to assist in the propagation and conservation of highly endangered freshwater mussel species.

Wolfe says, "There are a very large proportion of fresh water mussels which are endangered (in Ohio)."

She says "The entire Ohio River basin has about 300 mussel species."

The Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center is a collaboration among the Wilds, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium,  Ohio State University, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.     

The award recognizes "exceptional efforts…toward regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild."      

"Our native fresh water mussels are really important components of our aquatic habitat," says Wolfe. "They filter millions of gallons of water ever day and eliminate sedmient from the water (and) improve water quality."

The Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center opened in 2001.

It's located along the banks of the Scioto River near the Columbus Zoo.