The Potawatomi Zoo has taken an active role in the preservation of some of the world’s most endangered species. The Zoo has participates in several Species Survival Plans (SSP) coordinated through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs carefully plan for the future of species living in the zoos. For an endangered species, a genetically sound population is critical to studying that species and increasing its numbers.
The Species Survival Plan program began in 1981 as a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected species in zoos and aquariums in North America. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Beyond this, SSPs participate in a variety of other cooperative conservation activities, such as research, public education, and reintroduction and field projects.
A species must satisfy a number of criteria to be selected for an SSP. Most Studbook programs are computerized databases of the history of the captive population of animals, including birth dates, sexes and genealogies of individual animals. The purpose of the program is to continue to track the genetic make-up of captive bred animals to ensure that gene populations are as diverse as possible and to help keep genetic mutations from the captive population of animals.
The Potawatomi Zoo participates in several SSPs: You can also visit http://www.aza.org/conservation/ for more information.