Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a big fan of ferrets, both domestic and especially black-footed. Black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct in the mid-1980s until an unlikely hero made the discovery — a ranch dog in Meeteetse, Wyoming.
The zoo partners with other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations to breed, release and monitor black-footed ferrets to increase their population. We had the pleasure of visiting the zoo during the 2022 Black-Footed Ferret Rediscovery Day, which is celebrated every Sept. 26. At the zoo, we learned about the incredible work of their black-footed ferret program including meticulously controlled conditions to prepare for the animal’s annual breeding. The black-footed ferrets that participate in the Species Survival Plan live in a quiet, bio-safe area out of guests’ view. But visitors at the zoo can still see this cute, yet ruthless species in The Loft, home to black-footed ferret ambassador, Rouge. Rouge is a special part of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, helping to educate visitors on the importance of conservation.
Since 1991, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo successfully bred 589 black-footed ferret kits in its behind-the-scenes conservation center. Every visit to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is conservation in action. With 75 cents from each admission allocated to the Quarters for Conservation program, zoo guests help fund long-term conservation projects, including this black-footed ferret breed-and-release program. Since 2008, zoo guests have sent more than $4.5 million to conservation organizations through Quarters for Conservation.
We highlight the work happening to save the black-footed ferret in our new show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild. Learn about the show including how to watch it here.