The black-footed ferrets at Phoenix Zoo help save their species

In a quiet building between camels and cheetahs, five have black-footed ferretsBorn 25 kits in what could be the most successful endangered species breeding season at the Phoenix Zoo.

“They’re awfully cute,” said Tara Harris, director of conservation and science at the zoo.

They squeak and climb over their tired mothers in nesting boxes to breastfeed them. Their white fur turns black, their face masks fill up.

They are small and weigh less than 400 grams, but they have something important to do.

The zoo is one of six facilities that breed black-footed ferrets for release into the wild. The black-footed ferret, twice thought to be extinct, has returned to its native prairie grasslands in Arizona and other parts of North America through the work of people like Harris and her co-workers in seizures and beginnings.

Over the course of 30 years, the zoo has grown more than 500 kits.In the last month alone, 27 kits were born, and all but two survived, including Yoshi’s six kits and Vermillion’s four litter. Harris suspects that two more, Sedona and Roly Poly, are pregnant.

Black-footed ferrets usually live in underground prairie dog burrows. In the zoo, 24 adult ferrets live in a simulated environment with tunnels that lead to nesting boxes.

The staff followed them on video cameras. You will be paired with potential partners when the timing is right.

It’s a hit and miss every year.

“When we see all of these kits, I’m just so proud to know that many of them will go back into the wild,” said Harris, “and we’re a part of them.”

At the moment the kits are eating, sleeping and squeaking.

They are rarely treated, except when they are checked by the vet. After 60 days they are vaccinated against distemper and plague and after 90 days against rabies.

Soon they will meet the other kits and be introduced to meatballs. By the fall, they will be almost fully grown and depending on their genetics, they will either be selected for the breeding program or ready to be released into the wild.

They help save their own species.

Contact Karina Bland at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @KarinaBland. Sign up for their newsletter at

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