After Arizona residents participated in a voting contest, The Phoenix Zoo have made the decision and have officially named four of the new 21 endangered black-footed ferret kits.
With over 2,100 votes, the names chosen were Maple, Acacia, Cedar and Willow.
“We are thrilled to have another successful black-footed ferret breeding season and excited for these little kits to grow up and contribute to the recovery of their species” says Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation and Science at the Phoenix Zoo.
The Phoenix Zoo is one of six facilities worldwide breeding black-footed ferrets for release to the wild as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Black-Footed Ferret Species Survival Plan. Black-footed ferrets are considered one of North America’s most endangered species. Once thought to be extinct in the wild, they have returned to their native habitat through reintroduction efforts.
The Zoo has produced over 500 black-footed ferrets in its 30 years of involvement with the breeding program, with many released back into the wild in prairie grasslands in Arizona and other parts of their native range. In 2021, thirteen kits born at the Phoenix Zoo were reintroduced at sites in Colorado.
The new kits are being raised inside their specially designed den boxes and reside with their mothers. “The ferret moms are doing a fantastic job of caring for the new kits,” adds Harris. “The kits will stay with their mothers for the next few months. Some will likely be destined for release to the wild whereas others will be retained for the breeding program.”