The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC)/Phoenix Zoo is caring for 27 black-footed ferret kits at the Zoo’s Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Conservation Center, making this the most successful breeding season in twenty years. The first litter was born in May and the last just in June.
“It has certainly been a banner year for ferret kits at the Conservation Center,” says Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation and Science at the Phoenix Zoo.
The Zoo is one of six facilities worldwide breeding black-footed ferrets for release to the wild. The species is considered one of North America’s most endangered species. Once thought to be extinct in the wild, the black-footed ferret has returned to its native habitat through reintroduction efforts facilitated by state, federal, tribal and non-governmental wildlife conservation partners. The Zoo has produced over 500 black-footed ferrets in our 30 years of involvement with the breeding program, with many released into the wild in prairie grasslands in Arizona and other parts of their native range.
The six litters of kits at the Zoo are raised inside their specially designed nest boxes, tended by moms Mandolin, Lazuli, Ridley, Sedona, Vermillion and Yoshi, who are all doing a fantastic job caring for the little ones.
“Many of these kits will likely go to release sites in North America designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program, while others may stay here at the Phoenix Zoo or go to one of the other five breeding centers for participation in the managed breeding program,” says Harris. “We are hopeful that the kits produced at the Phoenix Zoo will be valuable contributors to the recovery of their species.”