Species Survival Plans

The Oregon Zoo and other accredited institutions across North America work together to combat animal extinction. One useful tool is the Species Survival Plan, or "SSP." This cooperative animal management program was started in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

As of 2015, there are more than 450 Species Survival Plans. Many represent endangered or threatened species — like orangutans and black rhinos—which are in urgent need of conservation and protection in the wild. Each plan is designed to manage the species population within AZA member zoos and aquariums to promote animal welfare and maintain genetic diversity.

Some Oregon Zoo keeper staff are involved in SSP management:

  • Senior bird keeper Gwen Harris is SSP coordinator and studbook keeper for the West Indian whistling duck and SSP vice coordinator for the emerald starling.
  • North America keeper Michelle Schireman is SSP coordinator for the puma (also known as cougar or mountain lion).
  • Marine Life keeper Amy Hash is studbook keeper for the DeBrazza's monkey.

Learn by playing

Before SSP managers can make breeding decisions that build species health and diversity, they must first know a great deal about each individual animal's genetic makeup. In this game, learn about the process they use as you play the role of "Population Manager" for a small population of endangered tigers.

Species Survival Plans at the Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is currently active in more than 60 Species Survival Plans, representing every section of the zoo:

  • Africa: African lion, caracal, cheetah, African wild dog, dwarf mongoose, African slender-snouted crocodile, African pancake tortoise, African straw-colored fruit bat, Allen's swamp monkey, black tree monitor, caiman lizard, colobus monkey, Rodrigues flying fox, hooded vulture, hadada ibis, lesser flamingo, Egyptian fruit bat, Henkel's leaf-tailed gecko, black rhinoceros, bontebok, De Brazza's monkey, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe hippopotamus, southern ground hornbill, Speke's gazelle, hamerkop, emerald starling, violet-backed starling, golden-breasted starling, Inca tern, toco toucan, red-billed hornbill, white-cheeked turaco, African pygmy goose, black crake 
  • Primate Forest: orangutan, chimpanzee, mandrill, white-cheeked gibbon, black howler, cotton-top tamarin, white-faced saki 
  • Asia: Amur (Siberian) tiger, Asian elephant
  • Great Northwest: bobcat, California condor, cougar, North American river otter, Pacific pond turtle, ringtail 
  • Pacific Shores: polar bear, Humboldt penguin, southern sea otter, harbor seal 
  • Insect Zoo: Mexican red-kneed tarantula 
  • Education Programs: Verreaux's eagle owl, prehensile-tailed porcupine, kinkajou