Squirrels enter Phoenix Zoo to avoid extinction
Aug 3, 2011
Squirrels usually aren't the first animal people think of when imagining threatened species, but in Phoenix, Arizona, officials are making sure that the Mount Graham red squirrels survive the worse-than-average fire season, The New York Times Reports. They are safekeeping them at a zoo.
While squirrels, in general, are not rare or dwindling in North America, this particular species has been listed on the endangered species list since 1987. Officials from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service brought four of these rare rodents to the Phoenix Zoo recently to ensure that the wildfires of this summer do not kill them off permanently by burning up their habitat.
Currently, there are only an estimated 200 red squirrels living in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains, which includes Mount Graham, the squirrel's namesake. A 2009 study of the population showed a drop from 2008, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Their numbers have dropped since.
Wildlife biologists trapped the squirrels in late June using peanut butter, and brought them to the zoo, where they are considering establishing a captive breeding program to boost the population.