Our Zoo does more than entertain and educate. We help endangered species survive, reproduce and return to their natural habitats.
Every AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium is a leader in wildlife conservation, participating in a long-term plan that involves habitat preservation, public education, field conservation, genetically diverse breeding and supportive research to ensure survival for many threatened and endangered species. The Brandywine Zoo has its own programs that support these goals.
The Brandywine Zoo exhibits many Species Survival Plan (SSP) animals, Population Management Plan (PMP) animals and other endangered species. These species are ambassadors of their conservation programs to help us disseminate the conservation information to our visitors. They may be exhibit animals for a variety of reasons such as age, health related reasons, social reasons, exhibit size, or they may be from a family of animals heavily represented by another family member such as a brother or sister in another facilities' breeding program. Or, they may be part of a breeding program as recommended by their SSP or PMP for optimum genetic diversity.
Species Survival Plan
The Species Survival Plan (SSP) was developed in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure the survival of selected threatened species by placing them in zoos and aquariums. SSP programs focus on animals that are in danger of extinction in the wild when zoo conservationists believe that captive breeding programs may be their only chance to survive. These programs also help maintain healthy and genetically diverse animal populations within the Zoo community. AZA accredited zoos like the Brandywine Zoo, as well as AZA conservation partners who are involved in SSP programs, engage in cooperative population management and conservation efforts that include research, public education, reintroduction and field conservation projects. There are currently 181 species covered by 113 SSP programs in North America.
Population Management Plan
The Brandywine Zoo follows the mission of the AZA Population Management Plan (PMP) which is to manage and conserve select species populations with voluntary cooperation. Currently, there are more than 300 PMP programs, each of which is responsible for developing Population Management Breeding and Transfer Recommendations that identify population management goals and recommendations that will ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied population.
Breeding in zoos to create self-sustaining populations is an important goal of all zoos; however in any breeding program, over-crowding and creating a surplus of animals are important concerns and considerations. Because the Brandywine Zoo is a small zoo, we do limit which animals have the opportunity to breed. All non-breeding species are set in the socially correct groups for their species. With some animals, temporary and permanent sterilization is utilized to control unwanted offspring. We do not breed indiscriminately.
Currently, the Brandywine Zoo has an emphasis on breeding New World Primates such as the Golden Lion Tamarins, Golden Headed Lion Tamarins, and Goeldis Monkeys. The Brandywine Zoo is also encouraging breeding with their pair of Andean Condors. These are SSP animals that ensure the genetic diversity of the species in captive populations and conservation programs. All breeding pairs are analyzed for optimum genetic diversity and breeding is done following SSP guidelines and recommendations. The Brandywine Zoo is also emphasizing breeding with our Prehensile Tail Porcupines and Burrowing Owls according to PMP recommendations.
Animal Record Keeping System
Accurate record keeping is essential for managing endangered species in a collection or across several collections. ISIS (International Species Inventory System)
is the company that manages ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System), the computerized network of records-keeping systems that are used by zoos and other institutions around the world. The Brandywine Zoo’s entire collection is currently recorded using ZIMS.
According to the ISIS website, "Today, zoos and aquariums are leaders in the effort to breed endangered animals. Aquariums and zoos and are the 'gene bank' of the web of life. Some species have been rescued from extinction, bred in zoos and returned to the wild, for example, the Black Footed Ferret, Californian Condor, Przewalski's Horse, Red Wolf, Micronesian Kingfisher, Arabian Oryx. This work takes a great deal of scientific expertise, genetic research, coordination, cooperation - and all of this relies on collecting and exchanging accurate animal data. Breeding and population management rely on knowing information about animals across the region, especially pedigree history and demography (births and deaths)."