The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), is a breeding - and conservation – program!
The survival of endangered species is increasingly more reliant on the sustainability of zoo populations. By investigating factors that could negatively impact on the reproductive viability of populations, we can make informed management decisions to boost the reproductive success of threatened species.
The SSP is designed to maintain a healthy, self-sustaining, genetically diverse and viable, as well as demographically stable population of a species in human care, and to organize zoo and aquarium-based efforts to preserve the species in situ. Each SSP manages the breeding of one species and has a qualified species coordinator who is responsible for managing day-to-day activities.
The Zoo’s General Curator, John Kiseda, contributes to these efforts by serving as one of the program leaders for the Mexican Wolf SSP. He has served this population and aided this recovery effort for many years.
By managing animal populations in zoos, effectively we're also maximizing the chances of animals being successfully reintroduced to the wild. That’s where the story of the Przewalski’s horse begins.
The species was discovered by Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky who described it in the 19th century.
Przewalski’s horses, also called Asian wild horses, are the only truly wild horses remaining in the world. Muscular and stocky, these horses were declared extinct in the wild in the 1960s due to over-hunting and encroaching human settlements. Through the collaborative efforts of AZA-accredited zoos and conservation partners, hundreds of Przewalski’s horses have now begun returning to the wild. That’s why the addition of Brianna is so important – not just for the El Paso Zoo, but for saving species.
A breeding pair of Przewalski’s horses is a part of how the SSP works to conserve species. These The SSP and breeding and transfer plans empower accredited zoos, such as the El Paso Zoo, to protect and breed endangered animals in order to save them from extinction.
All you have to do to help save species like Przewalski’s horse is to say hi to Brianna and Vitalis at the El Paso Zoo! When you visit these amazing animals, you help us continue conservation efforts in the wild.