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Image of Black-Footed Ferret from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo site.
Black-Footed Ferret

From Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 22, 2006
Latest Update: April 22, 2006

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Discussion Questions

  1. What ecological event caused the Black-Footed Ferret to come close to extinction?

    People over-hunted and killed off most of the prairie dogs who the black-footed ferrets hunted for food. The prairie could no longer provide the ferrets enough food.

    How close did the black-footed ferret come to extinction?

    "The black-footed ferret (BFF) is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. Black-footed ferrets came to the very brink of extinction in the early 1980s, (a total founding population of only seven animals), primarily due to human extermination of their main prey base – prairie dogs." From Cheyenne Mountain Zoo article.

  2. What does the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo have to do with the Black-Footed Ferret?

    The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a captive breeding program for black-footed ferrets. "The goal of the captive-breeding program is to restore this native carnivore to North America’s prairies. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s ferrets are part of an aggressive captive-breeding and reintroduction program that is gaining progress toward recovering this native ferret population. We are one of only five zoos in the world to breed this endangered species." From Cheyenne Mountain Zoo article.

  3. Is the captive-breeding program working?

    "The recovery program is enjoying marked success. . . . The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo joined the efforts to recover the endangered black-footed ferret in 1990 as one of the first zoos to do so. . . . To date we have produced almost 100 weaned kits and have contributed over 50 BFFs to release programs in Arizona, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado and Utah and two Native American Reservations." From Cheyenne Mountain Zoo article.

  4. Why worry about whether Black-Footed Ferrets become extinct, when there are so many problems in the world today?

    My instinctive response is that God made the ferret in all the beauty that nature bestows upon us. Who are we to waste that beauty and kill a living creature when we do not need to? But maybe we will not have to answer for it, since there are so much greater signs of pain and loss in our world today.

    But there is this warning called "knowingness." We are arrogant creatures, humans, and we tend to think that we know far more than we do. We do not know what will happen to our earth as species continue to disappear, and as we over-kill or over-hunt with little concern for replacing what we have used up. Global warming is already upon us, and may soon be beyond our ability to correct, meaning that the world will change even more in ways we cannot yet know.

    We worry about saving black-footed ferrets because we can, and because we do not know what will happen to our earth and to us, when they, and others like them, disappear forever. If we do not save them for their beauty and life, we had better save all that we can of this world gone awry, to save ourselves, who share their beauty, their planet, and their life.


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