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Phoenix Zoo welcomes endangered black-footed ferret babies

(Phoenix Zoo Photo)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Zoo has added its first litter of black-footed ferret babies this year.

The six babies, known as kits, were born Wednesday at the zoo to their mother, Mandolin, according to a press release.

The Phoenix Zoo is one of just six facilities in the world that breeds black-footed ferrets, which are endangered.

The kits will be raised at the zoo’s Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Conservation Center for the next few months before a decision is made about their future.

In the fall, the zoo will determine which kits will stay at one of the six breeding facilities for future breeding and which will be released to one of several release sites in the wild.

The decision is based on a close examination of the genetics of the population in human care and population trends at each of the release sites.

“They will either be retained for the breeding program or released into the wild,” Bradley Poynter, curator of conservation and science at the Phoenix Zoo, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

If the kits are slated for release this fall, they will go to the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado, where they will be placed in a “soft release” enclosure.

More than 400 black-footed ferrets have been born at the Phoenix Zoo since the program began.

About 100 of the ferrets have been released to sites in Arizona.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report.

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