Survival Plan® Programs
The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan®
(SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or
endangered, species population within AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related
Facilities, and Sustainability Partners.
There are currently more than 450 SSP
Programs, each managed by their corresponding Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs),
within AZA. Each is responsible for developing a comprehensive population
Studbook and a Breeding and Transfer Plan which identifies population management
goals and recommendations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically
diverse, and demographically varied AZA population.
Many of these SSP
Programs represent species that urgently need to be conserved and protected in
the wild, such as the giant panda, California condor, and lowland gorilla. SSP
Programs, as well as AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, significantly contribute
to field conservation efforts, species recovery, veterinary care for wildlife
disease issues, establishment of assurance populations, as well as many other
species-focused conservation. Read more about Field
AZA Policy for Full Participation in the Species
Survival Plan Program
Collaborative management of individual animals
within the greater whole of the AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, Certified
Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners population is critical
to ensuring the long-term survival of the species represented in its SSP
Program. The Policy for Full Participation in the SSP Program ensures that all
AZA stakeholders have input into the SSP Planning process and fully comprehend,
agree to, and follow the final SSP breeding recommendations. Read more about the AZA Policy
for Full Participation in the SSP Program.
AZA Animal Management
The success of cooperative breeding programs
depends on all institutions supporting SSP recommendations. If differences
regarding SSP breeding recommendations occur between the SSP and an AZA
stakeholder, AZA’s Animal Management Reconciliation Policy articulates the
processes that both parties must utilize to resolve them. Read more about the AZA
Animal Management Reconciliation Policy.
Program is supervised by an SSP Coordinator and composed of a Management Group,
appointed from AZA members, and several expert advisors. All SSP Program
functional and management processes are specified in the Species Survival Plan® Program
Handbook, however primary functions include:
- Overseeing the
development of a Studbook.
- Establishing management, research, and
- Developing a Breeding and Transfer Plan, in
coordination with the Population
Management Center (PMC).
- Developing non-breeding plans, in
coordination with the Wildlife
Contraception Center (WCC).
- Serving a specific role in conflict
resolution issues that may arise.
- Collaborating with other
institutions/agencies to ensure integrated conservation initiatives.
- Increasing public awareness of wildlife conservation issues.
- Developing and implementing ex situ and in situ education
- Developing in situ reintroduction programs, if
- Serving as an AZA expert and providing a discussion forum
for topics applicable to the species.
- Providing species-specific
information to the TAG in their development of a taxon-specific Animal Care Manual.
and Transfer Plans
SSP Programs collaborate with the PMC, WCC, Program
Leaders, and Institutional Representaties (IRs) from each participating
institution to develop an SSP Breeding and Transfer Plan. Each Breeding and
Transfer Plan summarizes the current demographic and genetic status of the
population and identifies breeding or non-breeding recommendations with
consideration given to each animal’s social and biological needs as well
transfer feasibility. All recommendations designed to maintain or increase a
healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable population. AZA members
may log in to the Animal
Program Database to download SSP Breeding and Transfer Plans.
SSP Coordinators often serve as the Studbook Keeper for the
same species, but this is not a requirement. Individuals interested in becoming
an SSP Coordinator must be an individual AZA member, be employed by and receive
support from an AZA-accredited institution, Certified Related Facility, or by a Sustainability Partner.
New SSP Coordinators will work closely with their
corresponding TAG Chair to become accustomed to their responsibilities. Becoming
an SSP Coordinator is an excellent opportunity to enhance their knowledge about
a particular species and population planning, develop professional relationships
with other Program Leaders, and become familiar with the management structure of
AZA Animal Programs and the WCMC.
Interested in Becoming an SSP Program
the Animal Program Database to find out which Animal Programs have
vacancies. The SSP
Program Handbook contains all of the administrative information needed to
manage an SSP Program, including detailed job descriptions, Program Leader,
Officer, and Management Group responsibilities and expectations, accountability,
and contact information.