Managing Captive Animal Populations

The Santa Barbara Zoo is one of the more than 220 accredited zoos and aquariums that participate in Species Survival Plans (SSP), a cooperative conservation program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Over 200 different species are managed, aimed at maintaining genetic diversity within captive populations, sustaining these captive populations, and guarding against extinction.

But not every individual SSP animal breeds. Some may be too old, for example, or on exhibit by themselves. Others may not have the genetic makeup needed for diversity. Breeding decisions are made as part of both long and short term plans for what is needed within the captive population.

Species Survival Plan

Collection Planning

Most animals you see in zoos today were born in captivity. Few animals are taken from the wild, and buying or bartering for species is rare. Zoos work collaboratively to manage breeding within the captive populations. For insight into how this works at our Zoo, see our “TAG You’re It” blog.

see our “TAG You’re It” blog

Animals currently being managed by Species Survival Plans at the Santa Barbara Zoo:


  • African Lion
  • Asian Small-clawed Otter
  • Amur Leopard*
  • Capybara*
  • Fennec Fox*
  • Giant Anteater
  • Goeldi’s Monkey*
  • Golden Lion Tamarin
  • Masai Giraffe
  • Island Fox*
  • Slender-tailed Meerkat
  • Three-banded Armadillo
  • Western Lowland Gorilla*
  • White-eared Titi Monkey
  • White-handed Gibbon*


  • Black-Naped Fruit Dove
  • Blue Crowned Pigeon
  • Blue-Faced Honeyeater
  • California Condor*
  • Chilean Flamingo
  • Hamerkop*
  • Humboldt Penguin
  • Inca Tern*
  • Laughing Kookaburra
  • Luzon’s Bleeding Heart Dove
  • Marbled Teal*
  • Palawan Peacock Pheasant
  • Rhinoceros Hornbill
  • Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture*
  • Scarlet Ibis*
  • Southern Ground Hornbill
  • Tawny Frogmouth
  • Toco Toucan


  • Burmese Black Tortoise*
  • Coahuila Aquatic Box Turtle*
  • Chinese Alligator*
  • Pacific Pond Turtle*
  • Radiated Tortoise*
  • Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizards*
  • San Esteban Island Chuckwalla*

*Not breeding