|February 24, 2009 -
Sarah Glass, curator of red pandas and special exhibits at Knoxville Zoo, has been named the coordinator for the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's (AZA) Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The mission of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's SSP program is to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species. This mission is implemented by animal experts, keepers and staff in each of the zoos and aquariums accredited by AZA. Implementation also includes the organization of scientifically-controlled managed breeding programs for selected wildlife as a hedge against extinction. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species on order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Knoxville Zoo as an AZA accredited organization, cares for and manages 28 species in the AZA's SSP program.
Sarah, who has worked with red pandas at Knoxville Zoo since 1993, will be responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the SSP, and representing red pandas in AZA accredited facilities across North America. She, along with assistance from the red panda management committee, will coordinate conservation efforts for red pandas, including population management, research, education and ties to wild population conservation.
As is reflected in Knoxville's mission, it is important to celebrate the wonders of the natural world through, education, conservation, and recreation. Supporting programs such as SSPs is vital to the zoo's success. Knoxville Zoo supports and participates in over 88 AZA species management plans including Species Survival Plans (SSP), Taxon Advisory Groups (TAG) and Population Management Plans (PMP). For instance, the zoo's herpetology lead keeper, Michael Ogle, serves as the studbook keeper for the flat-tailed tortoise and Madagascar spider tortoise PMP. Also, the director of animal collections, Lisa New, serves as the vice chair for the chimpanzee and Western lowland gorilla SSPs.
"This is a very well deserved honor for Sarah," said Jim Vlna, executive director at Knoxville Zoo. "We are very proud of Sarah's accomplishments and her dedication to the future of red pandas at Knoxville Zoo and throughout the world."