A Conservation Crisis
There has never been a greater need for species-based conservation action. One of every four animal species on the planet is threatened by extinction due to habitat loss/degradation, overexploitation, pollution, disease, alien species invasions, human overpopulation and the looming threats of climate change. Approaches for preserving biodiversity historically have centered on saving habitat and, by default, protecting species living in these native environments (in situ). However, the magnitude of the species crisis now means that all options deserve consideration, including intensive management in zoos and breeding centers (ex situ). Zoos, of course, are active forces for species conservation through animal exhibit designs that improve public awareness, raising and distributing funds for conservation, conducting research, providing security (insurance) populations for wild counterparts and participating in reintroduction efforts.
We believe that the endangered species crisis could be better addressed through more cooperative ventures involving institutions with space and expertise to study and propagate high priority species. A consortium of large and like-minded organizations called the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) is addressing this need.
Ensuring Species Survival
Established in 2005, Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) is a group of five centers that collectively manage more than 25,000 acres devoted to endangered species study, management and recovery. The C2S2 membership currently includes Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, San Diego Zoo Global, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Wilds and White Oak Conservation Center.
Individually, C2S2’s various institutions have already contributed to the study and recovery of many threatened species, including the California condor, black-footed ferret, Florida panther, kit fox, Mexican wolf, red wolf, desert tortoise, Attwater’s prairie chicken and Mississippi sandhill crane, among others. Collectively, these facilities have significant land holdings, specialized animal facilities and scientific and management expertise with animals in captivity and in nature.
C2S2 achieves its mission by:
- Being innovative, agile, opportunistic and using its space – and vast networks.
- Working with partners to identify and secure access to priority species that will benefit from C2S2 resources.
- Conducting science to understand biology and conservation complexities of species.
- Breeding to ensure availability of sustainable source populations – for recovery, reintroduction and managed populations.