Endangered black-footed ferrets bred at the Phoenix Zoo Conservation Center

PHOENIX — Twenty-one endangered lion-footed ferrets have been born at the Phoenix Zoo this breeding season in an effort to bring the animals back into the wild, the zoo and the Arthur L. and Ellen Johnson Conservation Center announced this week.

The Phoenix Zoo is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Black-footed Mongoose Species Survival Plan as one of six breeding facilities for the rodents to be released into the wild, according to a news release.

The black-legged ferret is one of the most endangered species in North America with an estimated 300 wild-born or released animals.

There were as many as five million ferrets in the United States during the early 20th century, according to the Nature Conservancy. However, lava plague, extermination due to farming concerns and habitat loss have all contributed to the population decline.

It was listed as critically endangered in 1967 and extinct in 1979, but reintroduction efforts contributed to its survival.

“We are thrilled to have another successful breeding season for black-legged mongooses, and we are excited about the growth of these small groups and contributing to the recovery of their species,” said Dr. Tara Harris, director of conservation and science at the Phoenix Zoo. a permit.

The Phoenix Zoo has produced more than 500 black-footed ferrets over the past 30 years through its breeding program. Many have been introduced to the wild in Arizona’s prairies and pastures, according to the release.

Thirteen kittens (baby ferrets) born in Phoenix last year have been placed in the wild in Colorado.

Young groups are raised with their mothers in specially designed dens.

“The ferret mums do an amazing job looking after the new kits,” Harris said. The groups will stay with their mothers for the next few months. Some will likely be destined for release into the wild while others will be kept for a breeding program.”

The zoo’s Johnson Conservation Center also breeds iron cactus owl, narrow-headed lace-ups, Chiricahua leopard frogs and other Arizona species of concern.

The Phoenix Zoo is asking the public for help naming a group of four one-month-old groups.

Name choices are:

• Kiyoshi, Toph, Suki, and Azolla (characters from Avatar the Last Air Bender)
• Freya, Isa, Idun, and Senua (Norse mythological names)
• Espeon, Umbreon, Flareon and Jolteon (Pokemon characters)
• Maple, acacia, cedar, willow

Voting continues until August 16 and can be done on the zoo’s social media channels and zNews, the zoo’s email newsletter.

We want to hear from you.

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