ANIMAL CONSERVATION

To participate effectively in the preservation and conservation of selected wildlife species, natural biological diversity and natural habitat not only on our own land but also, whenever possible, in the natural range of the selected species.

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IUCN RED LIST CATEGORIES

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), which makes animal population assessments and categorizes them by criteria based on these reports. The IUCN categories below will help identify the the level of threat each species faces.

CLICK AN IUCN BADGE BELOW TO LEARN MORE

NOT EVALUATED: A taxon is “not evaluated” when it has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.

DATA DEFICIENT: A taxon is “data deficient” when there is inadequate information to make a direct or indirect assessment of its extinction risk based on its distribution and/or population status. A taxon in this category may be well-studied, and its biology well-known, but appropriate data on population is lacking. Data deficient is therefore not a category of threat.
Listing of taxa in this category indicates more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate. It is important to make positive use the available data. In many cases, choosing between this status and threatened requires great care.

LEAST CONCERN: A taxon is “least concern” when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for near threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

NEAR THREATENED: A taxon is “near threatened” when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for vulnerable yet. However, it is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.

VULNERABLE: A taxon is “vulnerable” when the best available evidence indicates that it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

ENDANGERED: A taxon is “endangered” when the best available evidence indicates that it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR): A taxon is “critically endangered” when the best available evidence indicates that it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

EXTINCT IN THE WILD: A taxon is “extinct in the wild” when it is known to only survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population(s) well outside the historic range. A taxon is presumed extinct in the wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat – at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual) – throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a timeframe appropriate to the taxon’s lifecycle.

EXTINCT: A taxon (organism grouping for biological classification) is “extinct” when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. A taxon is presumed extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat – at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual) – throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a timeframe appropriate to the taxon’s lifecycle.

SPECIES MANAGEMENT

While not all of Fossil Rim’s animals are threatened, the vast majority of them are. Fossil Rim participates in the AZA’s Animal Programs, which include Species Survival Plan Programs. These SSPs strive to manage and conserve an ex situ species population through the cooperative actions of AZA institutions and other

conservation partners. Most SSPs manage threatened or endangered species, and are in place to create sustainable captive (or ex situ) populations over a 100-year timespan, thus establishing populations for assurance, study and sometimes reintroduction to the wild. There are more than 500 SSPs.

ENDANGERED OR THREATENED SPECIES ON THE GOSDIN SCENIC DRIVE

While on the Gosdin Scenic Drive, you can see these species that are so rare in the wild they are considered threatened or endangered by the IUCN. Some, like the addax and addra gazelle, are critically endangered with only about 100-200 individuals remaining in the wild. The scimitar-

horned oryx was extinct in the wild until 2016, when a small group was reintroduced into Chad. One of the scimitar-horned oryx calves you see at Fossil Rim may end up in the wild, considering we have and will continue to contribute to the released population!

  • Southern White Rhinoceros

  • Scimitar-Horned Oryx

  • Przewalski’s Horse

  • Mountain Bongo

  • Cheetah

  • Arabian Oryx

  • Addra Gazelle

  • Addax

  • Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra

OTHER SSP MANAGED SPECIES ON THE GOSDIN SCENIC DRIVE

  • Waterbuck

  • Sable

  • Roan

  • Greater Kudu

  • Giraffe

  • Gemsbok

  • Common Wildebeest

INTENSIVE MANAGEMENT AREA (IMA) ANIMALS

Endangered or Threatened Species in the IMA

  • Southern Black Rhinoceros

  • Red Wolf

  • Mexican Gray Wolf

  • Maned Wolf

  • Grevy’s Zebra

  • Cheetah

  • Black-Footed Cat

  • Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

CONSERVATION BREEDING

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center exists to aid in the conservation of animal species under the threat of extinction in the wild. Fossil Rim employs three key strategies to help fulfill our mission: conservation breeding, research and education. Fossil Rim’s large open spaces provide the ideal situation for successful conservation breeding programs of some species in peril.

Many of our animals, such as our ungulates (hoofed animals), are able to live in herds and family groups identical to those found in the wild. This facilitates normal breeding behaviors and results in very successful conservation breeding programs for our large ungulate species like sable, roan and addax.

We have also been extremely successful in breeding cheetahs, Attwater’s prairie chickens, black rhinos, white rhinos, Grevy’s zebras and several wolf species.

Some of our animals born at Fossil Rim, such as scimitar-horned oryx, have been reintroduced to the wild. Our animals also sometimes leave Fossil Rim to populate zoos or other conservation centers and wildlife sanctuaries, both in North America and abroad.

FOSSIL RIM SUCCESS STORIES

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Addax

More addax have been born at Fossil Rim (700-plus) than exist in the wild today. Sobering current estimates suggest less than 100 addax remain in the wild. Here at Fossil Rim, addax are maintained in a large herd consisting of one dominant bull and multiple females with young offspring, and are one of the antelope species thriving in their Texas home. Several scimitar-horned oryx and addax born at Fossil Rim were released during 2007 into Tunisia in an effort to reestablish herds in their native range.

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Attwater’s prairie chicken

Participation in the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Recovery Plan at the federal level continues to be Fossil Rim’s major contribution to the conservation of this native Texas species. Since the captive breeding program was initiated in 1992, Fossil Rim has played a leadership role by developing captive breeding techniques, leading all facilities in captive population and being the top producer of individual birds released annually into the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and the Texas Prairie Reserve. Every spring, males and females are paired to provide the most genetically diverse offspring possible.
Once the eggs are laid and collected, the intensive artificial incubation of eggs and raising hundreds of chicks begins. When summer arrives, the chicks are large enough to take the trip south to the release site and have a chance to breed in the wild the following spring, thus maintaining the population of this endangered grouse in the wild.

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Cheetah

Fossil Rim is a premier institution in North America in terms of cheetah cub production with 200-plus as of 2019. Involved in cheetah conservation since 1985, Fossil Rim has also become a leader in cheetah husbandry and research. It has sent offspring all over the world since 1986. Two breeding facilities, one inside our Jim Jackson Intensive Management Area and the other being our Haas Family Cheetah Conservancy, have key elements for breeding success via spacious yards, multiple males for females to select from, secluded maternity yards and dedicated staff.