Black-Footed Ferrets: A Reason to Celebrate

Black-footed ferrets from the Smithsonian National Zoo. Copyright Meghan Murphy, Smithsonian National Zoo.

A year ago, if asked what “BFF” stood for, my first guess likely would not have been “Black-Footed Ferret.”  But now that I’ve been working at the Association, I know that “BFF” stands for the charismatic little animal with a remarkable story.

As you may remember from June’s blog post on the black-footed ferret, Monday the 26 of September marked the 30th anniversary of the re-discovery of the black-footed ferret.  The BFF is North America’s only ferret species, and thanks to successful reintroduction programs at six breeding institutions over the past 30 years, there are now more than 1,000 ferrets in the wild.  This year, AZA institutions and their partners are celebrating the success – and an outstanding year of black-footed ferret kits.

Some BFF Highlights and Celebrations

  • Besides being the 30th anniversary of BFF re-discovery, it is also the Phoenix Zoo’s 20th anniversary of its BFF breeding program, and the 15th anniversary of the Zoo’s first reintroduction of the ferrets into the Aubrey Valley.  To commemorate these milestones, the Phoenix Zoo hosted its Black-Footed Ferret Celebration on September 24 and 25. The celebration featured a presentation about prairie ecosystems, crafts, and a viewing of the ferret tunnel activity.  For a behind the scenes look at the Phoenix Zoo’s BFF breeding compound, visit the Zoo’s website.

    Black-footed ferret kit. Copyright Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is celebrating the BFF 30th anniversary and the birth of 11 kits born this year.  The kits are slated to be released into the wild in Utah and onto Cheyenne River Sioux tribe land in South Dakota.  The Zoo hosted Ferret Fest on September 24 and 25, which included special keeper talks on the prairie ecosystem, a ferret obstacle course, and more activities designed to teach the public about this important conservation initiative.  For the latest news of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s BFF efforts, visit their blog.
  • Earlier this month, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) announced that 50 BFF kits had been born between April and June at its Front Royal facility this year.  “This truly is a banner year for us,” said Dave Wildt, head of SCBI’s Center for Species Survival. “Black-footed ferrets are a charismatic North American species and among the Smithsonian’s most successful conservation efforts.”  You can watch SCBI’s black-footed ferrets on their webcam.

    Black-footed ferrets from the Smithsonian National Zoo. Copyright Meghan Murphy, Smithsonian National Zoo.

Once considered the most endangered mammal in North America, the black-footed ferret is now on the road to recovery, thanks to the hard work put in by AZA institutions like the ones above – definitely a reason to celebrate.

Elise Waugh

This entry was posted in Black footed ferrets, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Conservation, Phoenix Zoo, Smithsonian National Zoo. Bookmark the permalink.

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