The Animal Facts Editorial Team
May 2, 2023 9:11 am
The Wilds, Ohio, The United States
The Wilds have announced a massive boost to the populations of two threatened species with 23 babies born across their Sichuan takin and Père David’s deer herds. The Sichuan takin is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature while the Père David’s deer is listed as extinct in the wild.
At The Wilds Sichuan takin are housed in natural herd arrangements, the only facility in America to use this management technique. From March 11 to April 13, 2023 a number of experienced mothers in the herd gave birth to a total of nine foals. At present The Wilds are home to the largest herd of Sichuan takin in North America.
Over their history The Wilds have produced a total of 125 takin kids with 30 of these having been moved to other accredited zoos as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The SSP program is designed to maintain a sustainable and genetically diverse population of threatened species in human care.
Along with contributing to the captive insurance population of takin The Wilds are also supporting their conservation in the wild. Their large herd offers the perfect opportunity to conduct comparative studies. Support is also given to field work in their native China including, developing field anesthesia protocols, testing tracking collar designs, and curating a video catalog of takin behavior.
Takin inhabit the same habits in China as the giant panda and face many of the same challenges to their survival including habitat loss alongside overhunting.
In an even bigger conservation success The Wilds have welcomed 16 fawns in to their herd of Père David’s deer another species native to China which is now considered extinct in the wild. These latest additions join the largest herd of Père David’s deer in a North American zoological facility. Over their history 200 fawns have been born.
Herds of Père David’s deer were hunted to extinction in the 1900s. The species only survives today thanks to a herd maintained by an English nobleman on his estate which have been bred further and distributed to other captive facilities.
Work commenced to return the species to the wild in the 1980s and now herds totalling over 7,000 individuals can be found in a fenced reserve while 600 individuals live freely in the wild. The IUCN continue to monitor this population and will downgrade them from extinct in the wild if it proves to be sustainable.
“We are extremely proud of our successful breeding programs and the positive impact they are making for these extremely rare species. As part of our mission of Empowering People. Saving Wildlife., we are also dedicated to sharing important information about Sichuan takin and Père David’s deer with our guests so they are aware of these species, inspired by their conservation success stories, and engaged in taking action to help protect these animals’ future,” said Dr. Joe Smith, Vice President of The Wilds.
Guest visiting The Wilds may be able to meet some of the new arrivals in The Wilds’ pasture with their herds.
Image: © Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
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