PHOENIX (August 2, 2022) – The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC)/Phoenix Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of 21 endangered black-footed ferret kits at the Zoo’s Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Conservation Center. The kits make up five litters from moms Akoya, Roseanne, Canneles, Vermillion and Lady Mary.

“We are thrilled to have another successful black-footed ferret breeding season and excited for these little kits to grow up and contribute to the recovery of their species,” says Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation and Science at the Phoenix Zoo.

The Phoenix Zoo is one of six facilities worldwide breeding black-footed ferrets for release to the wild as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Black-Footed Ferret Species Survival Plan. Black-footed ferrets are considered one of North America’s most endangered species. Once thought to be extinct in the wild, they have returned to their native habitat through reintroduction efforts. The Zoo has produced over 500 black-footed ferrets in its 30 years of involvement with the breeding program, with many released back into the wild in prairie grasslands in Arizona and other parts of their native range. In 2021, thirteen kits born at the Phoenix Zoo were reintroduced at sites in Colorado.

The new kits are being 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.”

In celebration of these exciting births, the Zoo is asking for help from the public to name one litter of black-footed ferrets, born to mom Canneles and dad Juniper. The kits are approximately one month old. Name suggestions were submitted by Zoo staff and volunteers and narrowed down by the Conservation Center staff who provide the kits’ daily care.

The public is invited to vote for one of four groups of names:

  • Kyoshi, Toph, Suki, and Azula (characters from Avatar the Last Air Bender)
  • Freya, Eisa, Idunn, and Senua (Norse mythology names)
  • Espeon, Umbreon, Flareon, and Jolteon (Pokémon characters)
  • Maple, Acacia, Cedar, Willow

Voting is live now and selections will be accepted through Tuesday, August 16, 2022, with the winning names announced on Friday, August 19, 2022, via the Zoo’s social channels and zNews, the Zoo’s email newsletter. Vote here:

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, among other species of conservation concern in Arizona.


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. For information on upcoming events, exhibits and activities at the Phoenix Zoo, visit



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