The capacity to save endangered species always depends on willingness to collaborate. No one person or facility has the resources to address all the complexities associated with recovering a rare and unique species. Since we formed, the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) has recognized the importance and power of collaboration. Not only are we working closely among our individual member institutions, we also are cooperating extensively with others to expand our impact and enhance our collective conservation success. Current collaborators include:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Service is a Federal agency with a mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish and wildlife species and habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. Historically, each of the five C2S2 organizations has worked with the USFWS to contribute to the study and recovery of some of the nation’s most endangered species.
The USFWS and C2S2 operate together under a Memorandum of Understanding to advance scientific understanding and conservation of priority species and habitats. The focus of this relationship is on priority species that require scientific research and significant ‘space’ as well as the ex situ/in situ expertise of C2S2 member organizations and staff. Examples:
- Operation and management of the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (Las Vegas, Nevada). C2S2 cooperates with the USFWS, the Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Department of Wildlife in supporting the recovery of the desert tortoise. This includes providing scientific, animal care and professional expertise to help ensure that the Center best meets the needs of this endangered species while leading key research, education and training activities. (Lead C2S2 institution, San Diego Zoo Global)
- Direct assistance and advice to the Recovery Program for the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken. One of the most endangered bird subspecies in the US, the Attwater’s prairie chicken exist in two reserves in Texas under USFWS management. C2S2 provides birds for reintroduction and advice for understanding the capacity of the reserve and how to mitigate animal mortalities after release. (Lead C2S2 institution, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center)
- Scientific collaboration with the Recovery Program for the Whooping Crane. C2S2 member institutions provide scientific expertise in evaluating fertility and reproductive success in whooping cranes managed by the U.S. Geological Survey and supported by the USFWS at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (Maryland). (Lead C2S2 institution, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute)
- Advisory assistance to the Recovery Program for the Masked Bobwhite Quail. A viable population of this endangered subspecies is no longer believed to exist in its native habitat in the US or Mexico. Remaining birds are maintained in captivity, largely at a facility in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. C2S2 is providing advice on management, husbandry and the need for field surveys before future opportunities to return these quail to nature. (Lead C2S2 institutions, San Diego Zoo Global and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center)
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA is comprised of more than 200 accredited zoological institutions throughout North America, including each of the C2S2 member institutions. AZA is concerned about species survival and ecosystem health and, therefore, is dedicated to having substantial conservation impact. C2S2 works closely with the AZA’s animal management programs called Taxon Advisory Groups and Species Survival Plans that strive to develop genetically viable populations of priority species.
- Sustainable Herds Project. C2S2 collaborates with a host of AZA member institutions in exploring new tools for creating ‘sustainable endangered species populations sustainably’. For example, C2S2 and 10 other AZA member institutions are working to develop new approaches for managing and increasing population sizes and the quality of selected species of hoofed animals. (All C2S2 institutions)
- Management and recovery of rare equid (horse) species. Equids as a taxon require both space and conservation breeding attention. In partnership with like-minded AZA-accredited institutions, C2S2 is using its substantial space and expertise to improve the management of rare equids, currently mostly focused on the Przewalski’s horse and Persian onager. Efforts have included cooperative scientific research, including sharing of staff. (Lead C2S2 institutions, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Wilds)
- Scientific discoveries in the cheetah. This iconic predator has low reproductive success in captive conditions. In cooperation with the Cheetah Species Survival Plan and AZA partners, all C2S2 institutions provide substantial space for enhancing reproductive success and breeding management of this rare carnivore. C2S2 scientists also lead collaborative studies to better understand cheetah reproductive biology, creating new knowledge and advanced biomedical tools that will improve propagation success. (All C2S2 institutions)
Center for Wild Animals of the Republic of Kalmykia (CWA). C2S2 has responded to the need to assist in developing a sustainable population of saiga antelope, which has been nearly hunted to extinction for its horn. C2S2 has been providing capacity training (animal husbandry, veterinary medicine, reproductive technologies) for staff of the Center for Wild Animals of Kalmykia in Russia. The goal is to create a hedge population of this unique species, including producing animals for eventual reintroduction into restored and stabilized habitat. (Lead C2S2 institution, the Wilds)
Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF). SCF is a dynamic organization with a mission of conserving the wildlife of the Sahara and its bordering Sahelian grasslands. Its vision is of a Sahara where ecological processes function naturally, with plants and animals existing in healthy numbers across their historical range. C2S2 shares the same philosophies as SCF, and these two organizations work together to develop new strategies and tools for increasing animal numbers and improving their management to eventually facilitate reintroductions. Species of interests include all Sahelo-Saharan antelopes, including the scimitar-horned oryx, addax and addra gazelle and the red-necked ostrich. (Lead C2S2 institutions, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, White Oak Conservation Center and San Diego Zoo Global)
Ohrstrom Foundation. Recognizing the importance of strong partnerships and conservation, the Ohrstrom Foundation has provided funding for the C2S2 Directorate, thereby advancing endangered species conservation and research.