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Conservation Centers for Species Survival

Every day, wild animals and habitat disappears from the planet. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, more than 21 percent of mammals, 12 percent of birds, 28 percent of reptiles, and 30 percent of amphibians are threatened by extinction. Working to combat that slow attrition is the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2), which includes the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).

C2S2 comprises  five centers spread throughout the United States, including SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia. These centers jointly maintain and manage more than 25,000 acres of land  for the express purpose of protecting endangered wildlife species.

The centers not only provide these animals with space that allows for natural group sizes and minimal public disturbances, but they also give scientists the opportunity to conduct valuable research and conduct breeding programs vital to species’ recoveries. Each C2S2 facility is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and works in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The five centers are:

These facilities are each examples of different habitats and ecosystem types. C2S2 staff and scientists work with partners to find and collect species of the greatest concern that will benefit the most from the resources each of these places have to offer. Some of C2S2’s current priority projects include the study and development of sustainable populations of various ungulates, birds, carnivores, and the desert tortoise.

The centers have already had some success with increasing the numbers of California condors, cheetahs, black-footed ferrets, Florida panthers, kit foxes, Mexican wolves, red wolves, desert tortoises, Attwater’s prairie chickens, and Mississippi sandhill cranes, among others.

C2S2 specializes in four main areas of expertise:

  • Species and population management through husbandry, breeding, and genetic research.
  • Reintroduction where strategies and tools are developed for assessing a habitat’s survivability as well as for releasing and monitoring animals.
  • Land stewardship and natural resource management, where natural conditions are managed and maintained to allow a species to recover while promoting local biodiversity.
  • Training and networking of professionals and students across research and zoological institutions.

Learn more about Conservation Centers for Species Survival.