The Red Panda GSMP (Global Species Management Plan)
For many years, zoos around the world have had organized breeding programs to help them sustain viable populations of the threatened species in their care. For example the North American zoos have their Species Survival Programs (SSPs), the Europeans their Endangered Species Programs (EEPs) and the similar programs in Australia and New Zealand, Africa and Japan. Some of these programs are unable to guarantee long term survival of these species perhaps because they do not have enough individuals or because they are too closely related, etc. In these cases the species may benefit from being managed at a global level. Therefore, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) launched the Global Species Management Plans (GSMPs). Six trial GSMPs were established in 2012 which included the Red Panda GSMP.
The Red Panda GSMP is managed by a committee of coordinators of regional red panda breeding programs in Europe, North America, Australasia, Japan and India. Although the majority of red pandas are managed at a regional level, once every 6-7 years (that is one red panda generation), the committee meets to look at the global red panda population and organizes a few inter-regional exchanges of animals to boost the regional and global gene pools.
The red panda population has actually been managed in this way since 1994, which is probably the main reason why the red panda regional populations (ex situ) are still very healthy. However, the recognition of the red panda program as a GSMP enables us to address various issues such as the availability of canine distemper vaccine and nutritional challenges at a global level. Also the fact that the GSMP includes zoos in India, one of the countries with wild red pandas, means that the GSMP has a direct link to what is happening to red pandas in the wild.
- Maintaining a genetically and demographically sustainable and behaviorally competent “back up” population.
- Having the potential to supply individuals for supplementation or reintroduction programs.
And indirectly by:
- Educating the public and raising their awareness about red pandas and their conservation
- Providing financial, technical, scientific and other support and expertise to red panda field conservation and research work.
The Red Panda GSMP has chosen Red Panda Network as its conservation partner and we encourage all zoos holding red pandas to support the work of this organization.