The Southeastern U.S. population of wood storks is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and is fully protected by Florida state and federal laws. The principle reason for the ESA listing is related to its decline from an estimated 20,000 nesting pairs in the 1930s to a low of about 3,000-5,000 pairs in the 1970s.
In 1999, a new wood stork rookery formed on Zoo grounds and it soon began to show signs of annual growth. This was brought to the attention of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and resulted in Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' (JZG) Wood Stork Conservation Project and Partnership with the USFWS in 2003 when careful monitoring began.
While banding of nestlings began in 2003, the following year JZG began satellite tagging and banding adult wood storks. The program plans to use banded storks to monitor nest attendance by sex and to determine the site fidelity of the species. Since the rookery's inception, JZG staff has provided veterinary care for any injured birds. Over the last eleven years the JZG rookery has been one of the most productive in the Southeastern U.S, and volunteers have logged hundreds of hours monitoring its success.