Copyright © 2013 Audubon Nature Institute P.O. Box 4327 New Orleans, LA 70178 (504) 861-2537 email@example.com
Species Survival Plan (SSP)
Species Survival Plan (SSP)
The mission of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program is to help ensure the survival of threatened or endangered species. Some of the animals within Audubon's care are SSP animals and our organization takes this responsibility very seriously.
What is an SSP?
The Species Survival Plan, or SSP, is a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected species at North American zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population, both genetically diverse and demographically stable. SSPs include other conservation activities including research, education, reintroduction, and field projects. Currently, there are 113 SSPs covering 181 species.
How are species selected?
Most SSP species are endangered or threatened in the wild and have the interest of professionals with time to dedicate toward their conservation. Also, SSP species are often "flagship species," well-known animals that arouse strong feelings for their preservation and protection of their habitat.
How does the SSP work?
Each SSP has a species coordinator responsible for managing day-to-day activities. Management committees of experts assist with conservation efforts, including population management, research, education, and reintroduction when feasible. Each institution holding an SSP animal has a representative who attends SSP meetings and coordinates SSP activities at the institution.
The SSP Master Plan
An SSP Master Plan outlines goals for the population by designing a "family tree" of a captive population to achieve maximum genetic diversity and demographic stability. Breeding and management recommendations are made for each animal with consideration of the feasibility of transfers between institutions, as well as maintenance of natural social groups. Often, Master Plans include recommendations not to breed animals to avoid the population outgrowing available holding space.
Studbooks are fundamental to the successful operation of SSPs as each contains the vital records of an entire captive population, including births, deaths, transfers, and lineage. A studbook enables the management group to develop a Master Plan that contains breeding recommendations based on genetics, demographics and species' biology. Studbooks are compiled and updated by "Studbook Keepers" with knowledge of the species and time to assist in its conservation.
Audubon Zoo maintains several studbooks for mammals, reptiles and birds.
Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs)
Taxon Advisory Groups help advance Species Survival Plans by developing recommendations for population management and conservation based on the unique needs of each species. Audubon Zoo participates in 35 TAGs.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Several Audubon curators participate in leadership roles within AZA as well as international programs, including:
- Amur Leopard SSP steering committee
- Board of Directors of International Iguana Foundation