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North American Species Survival Initiatives

Through its North American Species Survival Initiatives, C2S2 is helping to facilitate expanded conservation-focused activities and regional biodiversity initiatives at interested zoos.   Zoos can work with C2S2 and the Conservation Centers to conduct conservation breeding of native species, mobilize citizen science efforts in their local area, and connect with new partners. 

Each native species that C2S2 works with has two common characteristics – reliance on the need for conservation breeding, and a goal to establish self-sustaining wild populations through reintroduction of animals back to nature. Landowner engagement also distinguishes these initiatives. Priorities include songbirds (with loggerhead shrike as a model, see below), Attwater’s prairie-chickens, and hellbenders.


C2S2 is collaborating with the Loggerhead Shrike Working Group to implement a range-wide recovery plan for the threatened songbird.

Songbird Survival Program

The loggerhead shrike is a passerine songbird that has experienced one of the most drastic declines among North American songbirds since the inception of the Breeding Bird Survey in the mid-1960s. This quirky bird (commonly known as the 'butcher bird' in reference to its unique impaling behavior) is the model for a larger songbird initiative currently in development. C2S2 is collaborating with the Loggerhead Shrike Working Group to implement a range-wide recovery plan, with priority activities identified for both the wild population and conservation breeding, including research objectives, additional potential partners, coordination needs, and funding sources. 

With the long-term goal of quantifying population trends and size range-wide, we are launching a citizen science initiative, the Shrike Force, starting with a presence/absence survey to determine which habitats the shrike is or is not occupying.  Using a predictive model developed at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), we are able to identify locations where shrike are likely to be, helping C2S2 and its partners to scale/expand surveys and landowner engagement in the most efficient and effective manner.

PARTNERING ORGANIZATIONS: African Lion Safari, Austin Savanna, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, the Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Team, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Nashville Zoo, San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG), Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), Wildlife Preservation Canada, and The Wilds.

Other North American Species Priorities


Whooping Cranes 

Attwater's Prairie-Chicken

Photo Credits (from top:)  
Whooping cranes: Steve Hillenbrand, courtesy of USFWSLoggerhead Shrike: Shrike Force at Fossil Rim Wildlife CenterHellbender: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium