News from Zoos

Minnesota Zoo, China Work to Save World's Most Endangered Tiger

Minnesota Zoo Conservation Director Dr. Ron Tilson led a team of Chinese conservation officials on an expedition

through Longyan, Fujian Province, in an effort to save the critically endangered South China Tiger. Dr. Tilson also

held a tiger conservation workshop, which marks the beginning of a partnership between China and foreign officials,

including AZA's Tiger Species Survival Plan, on the South China Tiger Project.

More than 20 conservation officers from seven provinces attended the workshop, which highlighted tiger tracking

and search techniques. Following the expedition, the team visited the South China Tiger Captive Breeding

Program in Meihuashan Mountain, where "first phase facilities" have been constructed to breed and prepare the

tigers for release. The South China Tiger, know to locals as a "Mountain God," is the most endangered subspecies of

tigers know to exist. Fewer than 30 live in the wild and only 60 are held in Chinese Zoos. [Source: Communique]

Namibian Cheetah Ambassadors Come to the States

Ten young Namibian cheetahs arrived in the United States in April for distribution to AZA accredited zoos who

participate in the Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP). These cheetahs, comprising a group of cats from eight

different litters, all originated from commercial farmland areas and eventually found sanctuary at the Cheetah

 Conservation Fund (CCF).

The cheetahs represent a presidential gift from Namibia to the United States in recognition of the support it has

given to cheetah conservation efforts in Namibia. Four of the cheetahs are housed at the Cincinnati Zoological

Gardens and the other six were given to the White Oak Conservation Center. They will be integrated into the

Cheetah SSP, which was established in 1982 and manages of all captive cheetahs at different facilities in North

America as a unit. Working within this program, all the facilities holding cheetahs cooperate on issues concerning

reproduction, genetics, diets and general husbandry of the species.

CCF selected these ten cheetah based strictly on the criteria that they are non-releasable animals. The circumstances

under which these cheetahs were orphaned are mostly tragic, with their mothers being shot. However, all of

the cubs found their way to CCF through the concern for their welfare of the people that caught them and in two

cases, through the speedy intervention of a concerned neighbor. CCF has been the recipient of three grants from the

AZA's Conservation Endowment Fund. [Source: Jack Grisham, AZA Cheetah SSP Coordinator]

Mexican Gray Wolves Make Zoo New Home

The National Zoo announced that it has made a home for three Mexican gray wolves as part of an international

recovery effort to reintroduce the highly endangered wolf subspecies into the wild in Arizona, New Mexico and

Mexico. At a news conference this morning at the new wolf exhibit, located uphill from the seal pool, zoo and

animal conservation officials said the wolves will stay at the zoo until they can be released into a wilderness area in

either Arizona, New Mexico or Mexico.

The National Zoo participates in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the Mexican

wolves held in captivity. The SSP and the US Fish and Wildlife Service work cooperatively to support the Mexican

Wolf Recovery Program, the international effort to reintroduce Mexican Wolves.

The Mexican gray wolf is the most rare and genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America but

have not been seen in the United States and Mexico since 1970 and 1980, respectively. There are about 200 Mexican

gray wolves living today, and nearly all of them were born and raised in captivity.

Conservation officials said they work with the ranchers to try to keep the wolves away from humans and live-stock,

and they attach radio collars to the animals to track their whereabouts. [Adapted from an article by Karlyn

Barker, The Washington Post]

Information for News from Zoos is provided by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association