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Endangered Species
Endangered and Threatened Species
Many species at the El Paso Zoo are classified by conservation organizations and government agencies as endangered or threatened with extinction. The first part of this list summarizes the latest information on the status of selected species (updated June 15, 2012).

See below for more information on codes like SSP, PMP etc.

Asian Elephant, Endangered, SSP
Asian elephants are competing for habitat with 20% of the world's population in Southeast Asia. Conservationists estimate a wild population of only 35,000 animals across the entire range of the species.

Amur leopard, Critically Endangered, PMP
The Amur leopard is one of the rarest large cats in the world with as few as 35 animals left in the wilds of the Amur River region of Russia and China. Major threats to their survival include depletion of prey, habitat loss, and conflict with humans and the small wild population, which makes them vulnerable to inbreeding, and "catastrophes" like fire and disease. There are only about 200 animals in captivity in some 36 zoos around the world. Five leopard cubs have been born here since 2001.

Aruba Island rattlesnake, Critically Endangered, SSP
This snake lives on the island of Aruba in the Caribbean and is the rarest rattlesnake in the world. The island is very small and development is destroying most of the snake's habitat. Less than 12 square miles of habitat remains (not on exhibit at this time pending completion of new exhibit).

Bali mynah, Critically Endangered, SSP
This bird is endangered because of forest destruction and the pet trade. Due to captive breeding programs, there are more Bali mynahs in zoos and private aviaries than on the island of Bali in Southeast Asia. Our animals are part the SSP program. A release program has been in existence for about 14 years. Captive bred birds have been released with minimal success because people involved with the black market pet bird trade have captured the birds. A new effort to release birds into better-protected habitat on the nearby island of Nusa Penida is currently underway. The population appears to have adapted to the island and is breeding, with a total of 65 adults and 62 young present in 2009.

Bolson tortoise, Vulnerable
These reptiles hibernate during the cooler winter months inside the exhibit and most likely will not be seen. The Bolson tortoise is the largest land turtle in North America. South of El Paso, in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert, where the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango intersect, there is a Biosphere Reserve called the Bolson de Mapimi. The last remaining wild population of Bolson tortoises survives in this reserve thanks to the conservation efforts of Mexico.

This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has experienced a population decline of up to 50% over the past 3 generations. It faced catastrophic levels of exploitation during the middle of the 20th century, with subsequent lower levels of exploitation. About six separate subpopulations exist, comprising some 7,000 to 10,000 adults, collectively occurring over about 7,000 sq. km.

Cotton-top tamarin, SSP
These small primates are endangered because of the clearing of their forest habitat and population depletion from the animal trade. Nature reserves have been set up to help protect the species. Only 2-3,000 survive in the wild.

Galapagos Tortoise
The greatest threats to the tortoises come from introduced nonnative species to the islands, such as rats, dogs, and cats, which eat tortoise eggs and young tortoises. They also must compete for food with goats and cattle, which causes food shortages. At best, there are about 10,000 to 15,000 tortoises living today on the Galapagos Islands.

Golden lion tamarin, SSP
The golden lion tamarin is one of the world's endangered mammals. It has declined largely because of destruction of its forest habitat for lumber, agriculture, pasture and housing. Over 1000 animals now survive in the wild. Thirty years ago, the population was down to 200. Captive breeding programs from Zoos around the world have successfully added nearly 200 animals to the wild population.

Hooded Crane, PMP
Listed as endangered by the USFW. World War II devastated hooded crane populations and only 250 were counted at the end of the War. The high density of birds on relatively small wintering grounds in Japan makes them vulnerable to natural or manmade catastrophes. Today the wild population is estimated at 11,500 birds.

Malayan tiger, Endangered, SSP
An estimated 500 Malayan tigers are left in the wild of Malaysia, which has carrying capacity of 493 to1480 tigers based on available habitat.

Lion-tailed macaque, Endangered, SSP
Lion-tailed macaques are the most endangered of the 16 species of macaques. They have a low reproductive rate and seem unable to adapt to human encroachment: clearing of forests for agriculture, construction of dams and roads. Only about 2500 survive in the Ghats Mountains of southwest India.

Mauritius pink pigeon, Critically Endangered, SSP
There were about 15 Pink Pigeons in the wild in the early 1990s. At present (2010) there were 387 birds in the wild.

Mexican wolf, Critically Endangered, SSP
The El Paso Zoo is part of a group of zoos in partnership with a US Fish and Wildlife Service cooperative breeding program to save critically endangered Mexican wolves. The program is designed to breed captive animals in support of a reintroduction project to restore the species to its native habitat in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico. Approximately 50 animals now roam in the wild because of the effort.

Ocelot, SSP
Listed as endangered in Texas. Ocelots once lived as far east as Louisiana, but their habitat has been reduced by agriculture. Today only about 100 ocelots live in South Texas.

Przewalski's wild horse , Critically Endangered, SSP
The Przewalski's wild horse went extinct in the wild during the 1960s. Reintroduction efforts are now underway in Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. There are now approximately 325 free-ranging re-introduced and native-born Przewalski's wild horses in Mongolia, the only country where truly wild reintroduced populations exist within its historic range. The success of reintroduction efforts has resulted in the status of the species being elevated from extinct to critically endangered.

Siamang, SSP
Listed as endangered by the USFW. Wild populations are decreasing rapidly because of habitat loss.

Sumatran orangutan, Critically Endangered, SSP
There are more orangutans in the wild than previously thought because of improved population estimates. In 2004, the total world population for Borneo and Sumatra was 50-60,000. The Sumatra situation is extremely desperate with an estimated population of 7,500.

Spider monkey, Endangered
Two subspecies from Central America are listed as Endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of our spider monkeys are believed to be hybrids.

Thick-billed Parrot, SSP
High in the slopes of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Central Mexico reside the remaining populations of wild Thick-billed Parrots. Scientists estimate a maximum wild population of 4000 birds. The birds we have now live behind the scenes until a new exhibit can be built for them.




Our Source at the El Paso Zoo: Our species status reports on based on the maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at For more information visit the Categories and Criteria section of the website.

Endangered: An animal or plant is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered, but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.

Critically Endangered: An animal or plant is Critically Endangered when it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.

Vulnerable: An animal or plant is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.

Lower Risk: An animal or plant is Lower Risk when it has been evaluated, does not satisfy the criteria for any of the categories Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable.

Hybrid: the offspring of two animals of different species or subspecies such as a mule. For example, there are a number of subspecies (varieties) of spider monkey ranging from Mexico to South America. Some of our spider monkeys are the result of captive breeding between different subspecies.

SSP: Species Survival Plan. 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.

PMP: Population Management Plans provide basic population management for various captive populations. PMPs are established for studbook populations that do not require the intensive management and conservation action of Species Survival Plans (SSPs).

For more information: 915-521-1881 or


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