are over 107 species survival plans covering 161 species administered
by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
range from lions and rhinos to toads and toucans. You can
find out more about SSPs at www.aza.org
(© Disney's Animal Kingdom®,
photo by Rebecca Phillips)
SSP manages a
of over 360 gorillas
in North America.
and twins, Kazi and Kal
G.g. gorilla, Zoo Atlanta
(photo by Georgina Salup)
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
(photo by Dave Liggett)
The Gorilla SSP®
Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) serves 52 zoos across the
United States to help guide the management of the gorilla population.
Although our primary role is in population management, we are
ultimately interested in the health and well-being of ALL gorillas,
including those living outside accredited zoos and in the wild.
The Gorilla SSP is administered under the Ape
Taxon Advisory Group (TAG).
primary goals of an SSP are to treat an entire population of
animals as a single unit
and promote cooperation among holding institutions to ensure
the long term survival of the species in captivity. A minority
of SSP populations support wild populations through reintroduction
programs, but the majority of SSP programs exist solely to create
a sustainable captive population to advance the mission of zoos
for many years to come. Holistic SSP programs extend beyond
captive management to encompass scientific research, conservation,
and education programs that support populations in zoos and
in the wild.
G.g. gorilla, Brookfield Zoo
(photo ©The Chicago Zoological Society,
Brookfield Zoo, Jim Schulz)
12 September 2007, Western gorillas - the only species seen
in zoos - were re-classified from "Endangered" to
"Critically Endangered" by The
World Conservation Union (IUCN). Only a decade ago scientists
estimated there were more than 100,000 Western gorillas in Africa,
but threats from the bushmeat crisis
(illegal, unsustainable hunting of
wild animals) and Ebola virus have wiped out so many gorillas
that current estimates
are closer to 30,000. Many of the gorillas killed by humans
or disease were in protected areas like national parks, but
limited resources make it difficult for people to adequately
protect gorillas and support the people who live near them.
This tragic news
underscores the importance of zoos in educating North Americans
about the essential
role of wildlife in maintaining the health of the planet, the
plight of wild animals and
nearby human populations, and what we here in North America
can do to stop current trends toward extinction worldwide.
Science guides much of the management practices of the SSP.
Find out more about what research projects are currently being
conducted or supported by the SSP.
Public outreach is vital to increasing awareness about the status
of gorillas in zoos and in the wild. Find out more about gorillas
and how you can get involved.
Great apes face a myriad of challenges in today's world.
The Gorilla SSP is committed to taking a stand on some of the
critical issues facing apes as well as promoting optimal care
Critically endangered in their native Africa, gorilla populations
are perilously low due to several factors including deforestation,
disease and the bushmeat crisis. The SSP supports in situ
activities that address these issues.
The people that look after gorillas in accredited zoos have
some of the most rewarding yet challenging jobs around. The SSP
serves these institutions by providing contemporary information
about the proper care and management of gorilla groups in a variety
SSP is a completely volunteer organization administered by a group
that care about gorillas and gorilla issues. Find out more about
the people behind the
programmatically supported by AZA and our member zoos, any funding
for our efforts is from independent granting programs or from the
sales of our official
Gorilla SSP merchandise. Please check out our products and support
Profits support conservation, research, and programmatic efforts
of the SSP.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, our governing body.
TAG: The Taxon Advisory Group for apes in AZA zoos.
Chimpanzee SSP: The Species Survival Plan for chimpanzees
in AZA zoos.
Bonobo SSP: The Species Survival Plan for bonobos in AZA zoos.
Orangutan SSP: The Species Survival Plan for orangutans in
Gibbon SSP: The Species Survival Plan for gibbons in AZA zoos.
The Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance: caring for the staggering
apes orphaned in Africa as a result of the pet trade, the bushmeat
Bushmeat Crisis Task Force: a consortium of conservation organizations
and scientists dedicated to the conservation of wildlife populations
threatened by commercial hunting.
Canadian Ape Alliance: an organization dedicated to raising
awareness of the imminent threats to the great apes and developing
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA): the umbrella organization
the world aquarium and zoo community.