We are in the midst of a species extinction crisis like no other in history. The full implications of continued mass loss of animals on our planet are unknown, with the potential for far-reaching, catastrophic impacts to our environment and our own future. Historical approaches for preserving biodiversity have centered on saving habitat and protecting species living in these native wild places (in situ). The magnitude of the species crisis has become so great that it now is essential to explore more in-human-care (ex situ) initiatives. Ex situ populations can, and must, be active forces for species conservation.
To address this crisis, the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) brings together the collective expertise of large-sized institutions committed to endangered species study, management, and recovery. In the species extinction crisis, C2S2 has a crucial and unique role to play, through 1. Creating secure populations of endangered species, 2. Conducting the priority research that will enable source populations and in-range populations to prosper, and 3. Creating and facilitating networks of people across sectors taking action for conservation.
The need for significant space capacity necessitates the development of more big centers of breeding excellence, both in the public and private sectors. Private landowners in the US are an essential, powerful, and underutilized force for conservation. Because almost 60% of all US lands (and 98% of the land in Texas) is owned privately, it is only through strong public/private partnerships that species sustainability can be addressed on a global scale. C2S2 develops frameworks and standardized plans/processes for collaborative conservation actions across stakeholder groups. Working together, zoos, conservation centers, private landowners, and the government have the fundamental assets needed to create genetically diverse, secure assurance populations of the most endangered species.
In 2005, five of the world’s top endangered species breeding and management centers, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, San Diego Zoo Global, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, The Wilds, and White Oak Conservation, came together to form the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2), a consortium dedicated to developing novel and data-driven programs to sustain populations of species considered endangered. The consortium cooperatively applies its substantial resources for the survival of species with unique needs, especially pertaining to large areas, natural group sizes, minimal public disturbance, and scientific research.
In 2014, C2S2 moved its central office from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. The following year C2S2 received 501(c)(3) status and hired its first Executive Director. At the 2015 annual October meeting of the Board of Directors, it was decided that C2S2 would develop a major plan to save an expanded portfolio of endangered species over the next 25 years, building on its existing models and developing new ways to address additional species that can benefit from C2S2’s unique resources. These broad-scale models for saving species from extinction are C2S2's Species Survival Initiatives: Global Populations, North American Species, Source Population Alliance, and Code Red Keystone.
C2S2 is led by experts in conservation biology, reproduction, reintroduction science, animal care and management, and natural resource management.
James Gregory (Treasurer), Austin Savanna in Austin, TX
Jeff Holland, Center for the Conservation of Tropical Ungulates in Punta Gorda, FL
Kelley Snodgrass, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, TX
Danny Morris (Chair Elect/Secretary), Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE
Stacey Johnson, San Diego Zoo Global in San Diego, CA
David Wildt, PhD (Chairman/President), Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA
Rick Dietz, The Wilds in Cumberland, OH
Justin Gregory, Austin Savanna in Austin, TX
Holly Haefele, DVM, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, TX
Dan Cassidy, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE
Michael Mace, San Diego Zoo Global in San Diego, CA
Budhan Pukazhenthi, B.V.SC., PhD, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA
Dan Beetem, The Wilds in Cumberland, OH
Evan Blumer, VMD, MS, OsoMono Ltd in Gahanna, OH
Nicole Cavender, PhD, The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL
Susie Ellis, PhD, International Rhino Foundation in Strasburg, VA
Gina Ferrie, PhD, Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, FL
Matthew Fuller, Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia
Lewis Greene, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, OH
Jack Grisham, Saint Louis Zoo in Saint Louis, MO
Larry Johnson, Safari Enterprises in Boerne, TX
Larry Killmar, PhD, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL
John Lukas, Wildlife Conservation Global/Okapi Conservation Project in Jacksonville, FL