Species Survival Plan Programs

Species Survival Plan® Programs

The mission of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to oversee the population management of select species within AZA member institutions (i.e., AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, Conservation Partners, and Certified Related Facilities (CRFs)) and to enhance conservation of this species in the wild. Each SSP Program coordinates the individual activities of participating member institutions through a variety of species conservation, research, husbandry, management, and educational initiatives. Each SSP works under the supervision of a Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), which may manage multiple AZA Animal Programs within its purview. SSP Programs may work with their TAG to coordinate with other regional and international species conservation programs to lead, develop, oversee, promote, evaluate, and support the cooperative animal management, conservation, and scientific initiatives of the SSP Program.

There are currently nearly 500 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.


SSP Programs are led by expert advisors who cooperatively work together to maximize genetic diversity, appropriately manage the demographic distribution and long-term sustainability of TAG recommended Animal Programs within AZA member institutions. Each SSP Program manages the breeding of a select species or sub-species by collaborating with the AZA Population Management Center (PMC), Reproductive Management Center (RMC), Program Leaders, and Institutional Representaties (IRs) from each participating institution to develop an SSP Breeding and Transfer Plan. Breeding and Transfer Plans summarize the current demographic and genetic status of the population, describe the Animal Program’s management designation, and recommend breeding pairs and transfers. These Plans are designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable population for the long-term future. AZA members may log in to the Animal Program Database to download SSP Breeding and Transfer Plans.

The AZA and its member institutions recognize that cooperative management is critical to the long-term survival of professionally managed Animal Programs and are fully committed to the goals and cooperative spirit of the SSP Program partnerships.

All SSP functional and management processes are specified in the SSP Program Handbook.

Interested in Becoming an SSP Program Coordinator?

Visit AZA's Animal Program Database and the Program Leader Vacancies page to find out which Animal Programs have positions available and how to apply!

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