Wednesday, May 15, 2024

O’Bannon Woods State Park Receives New Hellbenders

O’Bannon Woods State Park has received two new Eastern hellbenders as part of its ongoing exhibit of North America’s largest salamander, one of its many live animal exhibits open for viewing.

In cooperation with a larger regional program dedicated to the preservation and reintroduction of the species, the park’s Hickory Hollow Interpretive Center has an exhibit dedicated to preserving the species and teaching people about it. In Indiana, the hellbender is protected as an endangered species.

The new hellbenders were recently received from Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette. They are 8 ½ years old and approximately 13 inches long.

“They are eating and adjusting to their new environment very well,” said Jarrett Manek, the state park’s interpretive naturalist. “As an indicator species for healthy water, this species is one worth learning more about.”

The previous two hellbenders exhibited at O’Bannon Woods were transferred as part of the cooperative regional restoration effort among the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Purdue University, and other zoos across the region that has helped reintroduce hundreds of young hellbenders into the Blue River in southern Indiana as well into other Midwest waterways. Metsger Park Zoo in Evansville and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife each received one of the hellbenders last year as part of their respective breeding programs.

Hickory Hollow Interpretive Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the hellbenders and upcoming programs, call 812-738-8234 or see

O’Bannon Woods State Park ( is at 7234 Old Forest Road SW, Corydon, 47112.