Toronto Zoo says sixteen endangered black-footed ferret kits were born as part of the Zoo’s native species conservation breeding program.
According to the press release, twenty-one adult black-footed ferrets currently call the Toronto Zoo home, and four females successfully produced offspring this year. The first three kits were born on May 19th to mom Guess and dad Coconut; five kits were born on June 1st to Aviana and Coconut, four kits were born on June 3rd to mom Abuela and dad Chestnut, and four kits were born on June 10th to Nana and Coconut.
The Toronto Zoo will be sending some of the ferrets born this year to the US National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado to prepare them for life in the wild before releasing them into North American prairies.
Toronto Zoo has successfully bred 400 ferret kits and is one of the six facilities in the world that breed this species.
The Zoo says black-footed ferrets exist in the wild due to the Species Survival Plan. It was considered extinct until a tiny remnant population was discovered in 1981 and brought into human care for managed breeding. The release component of this Species Survival Plan is the sole reason that black-footed ferrets exist in the wild today.
Currently, the population numbers in the North American prairies are over 300 animals and at least four populations are considered self-sustaining.