Challenges and solutions: An analysis of community-reported needs of AZA collaboratively managed animal populations

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Lauren Wilson, Candice Dorsey, Donald Moore
Zoo Biology
, , ,

Zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) cooperatively manage Species Survival Plan(R) (SSP) Program populations to maximize genetic and demographic health and work toward long-term population sustainability. However, recent analyses suggest that only a minority of populations were projected to maintain their sustainability goals over 100 years. As one of the initial steps in addressing this concern, the AZA collaborated with hundreds of members of the zoo and aquarium community to develop the SSP Sustainability Database, a repository of quantitative and qualitative data on SSP Program challenges, population data, and management needs. A goal of this initiative was to identify the most critical needs across taxa and provide AZA-accredited facilities a mechanism to align institutional resources with SSP Program priorities, thus facilitating strategic decision-making for population sustainability at all levels of population management. Four types of critical SSP population needs emerged as the most common: additional spaces, optimized and standardized husbandry practices, the incorporation of new individuals into the population (importation), and improved breeding and transfer recommendation fulfillment. Patterns and trends in these critical needs varied across taxa and ex situ extinction risk (proxied by population management designation). The AZA community can apply these findings and proactively engage in opportunities to enhance SSP Program population sustainability through strategic, collaborative group action.


Back to Resources