Species Survival Plan

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San Clemente Island Fox at Santa Barbara Zoo as part of an SSP

The American Species Survival Plan or SSP program was developed in 1981 by the (American) Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums,[1] most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild.

SSP Program[edit]

SSP programs focus on animals that are near threatened, threatened, endangered, or otherwise in danger of extinction in the wild, when zoo and zoology conservationists believe captive breeding programs will aid in their chances of survive.[2] These programs help maintain healthy and genetically diverse animal populations within the AZA accredited zoo community.[3] AZA accredited zoos and AZA conservation partners that are involved in SSP programs engage in cooperative population management and conservation efforts that include research, conservation genetics, public education, reintroduction, and in situ or field conservation projects.[1] There are currently 172 species covered by 116 SSP programs throughout North America.[4] The SSP has been met with widespread success in ensuring that, should a species population become functionally extinct in its natural habitat, a viable population still exists within a zoological setting. This has also led to AZA species reintroduction programs, examples of which include the black-footed ferret, the California condor, the northern riffleshell, the golden lion tamarin, the Karner blue butterfly, the Oregon spotted frog, the palila finch, the red wolf, and the Wyoming toad.[5]

SSP Master Plan[edit]

An SSP Master Plan is a document produced by the SSP coordinator (generally a zoo professional under the guidance of an elected management committee)[1] for a certain species. This document sets ex situ population goals and other management recommendations to achieve the maximum genetic diversity and demographic stability for a species, given transfer and space constraints.[2]

See also[edit]

List of SSP Programs[edit]

There are currently 478 species and subspecies that have an SSP program.[6][note 1]


  1. ^ While these are called Species Survival Plan Programs, some animals on this list are subspecies. Other animal names on this list are not the commonly used name, however they are the official name of their respective SSP program.
  2. ^ Currently this is the Species Survival Program that contains more than one species.


  1. ^ a b c Association of Zoos and Aquariums (2007). "Species Survival Plan Program - SSP Fact Sheet". Association of Zoos and Aquariums website. Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-09-13.
  2. ^ a b "Species Survival Plans help preserve wildlife" on the Central Florida Zoo website.
  3. ^ "Species Survival Plan" on PBS NOVA Online.
  4. ^ AZA Conservation Program Statistics on the AZA website.
  5. ^ "Reintroduction Programs". www.aza.org. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  6. ^ Association of Zoos and Aquariums. "Animal Program Search Result". Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 2021-08-13.

External links[edit]

Many AZA-accredited zoos engage in SSP programs and discuss them on their websites. The following links are to a small selection of those sites: