Several Litters of Endangered Black-footed Ferrets Born at the Zoo!

The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC)/Phoenix Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of 21 black-footed ferret kits at the Zoo’s Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Conservation Center. The kits make up four litters to moms, Mandolin, Lazuli, Ridley, and Yoshi.

“This is already our most successful black-footed ferret breeding season at the Johnson Conservation Center since 2016,” says Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation and Science at the Phoenix Zoo. “Encouragingly, another three females are possibly pregnant, so we may have additional kits soon.”

 The Zoo is one of six facilities worldwide breeding black-footed ferrets for release to the wild. The species is considered one of North America’s most endangered species. Once thought to be extinct in the wild, the black-footed ferret has returned to its native habitat through reintroduction efforts facilitated by state, federal and non-governmental wildlife conservation partners. The Zoo has produced over 500 black-footed ferrets in our 30 years of involvement with the breeding program, with many released into the wild in prairie grasslands in Arizona and other parts of their native range.

The Johnson Conservation Center is an off-exhibit space at the Zoo reserved specifically for breeding native species. In addition to black-footed ferrets, the Zoo also breeds cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls, narrow-headed gartersnakes and Chiricahua leopard frogs just to name a few.

The new kits will be raised inside their specially designed den boxes and reside with their mothers. “The ferret moms are doing a fantastic job of caring for the new kits,” adds Harris. “The kits will stay with their mothers for the next few months. Some will likely be destined for release to the wild whereas others will be retained for the breeding program. Wherever these kits go, we are proud to know they will play a part in the recovery of this iconic species.”

About the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation

The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation operates the Phoenix Zoo. The ACNC advances the stewardship and conservation of animals and their habitats while providing experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world.

The Phoenix Zoo is the only zoo in the Valley accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is a non-profit zoological park, serving 1.4 million guests annually. The Zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals, many of which are endangered and threatened species. 

“Save our BFFs” Shirts


Since 1991, the Phoenix Zoo has been an active partner in bringing black-footed ferrets, or BFFs, back from the brink of extinction…and now you can help save this incredible species. The Zoo is selling limited edition “Save our BFFS” t-shirts with proceeds going toward black-footed ferret conservation and all of the animals who call the Zoo home.