European Endangered Species Programme (EEP)

European Endangered Species Programme

EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) accredited animal collections, such as Woburn Safari Park, participate in two levels of managed breeding programmes, the European Endangered species Programme (EEP) and the European Studbook (ESB). These ensure a viable and sustainable captive population is maintained long term.

The EEP is the most intensive form of managed breeding and is conducted by an EEP coordinator, assisted by a species committee. The role of the coordinator is to to collate data on all individuals of a particular species and analyse this data annually using a computer software programme.

Data analysis determines which individuals should breed to maintain 90% gene diversity within the programme ensuring healthy captive populations. Breeding programmes are not simply about breeding as many animals as possible, as this in itself could have a harmful effect on the species long term.

Each EEP programme plays a key role in the conservation of endangered species. The coordinator and committee also make recommendations on animal moves between zoos.

The EEP objective is to ensure a viable captive population, in order to safeguard the future of a species that is at risk of extinction in the wild.  Animals can then be available for introduction back into the wild, should that be the right conservation solution for the species.  

The EEP Species Committee deals with all strategic aspects of the breeding programme, with discussion and (where appropriate) approval of:

× The breeding and transfer recommendations

× The long-term management plan

× Setting EAZA Best Practice Guidelines (including animal welfare)

× Research proposals for the improvement of husbandry, reproduction etc

× Resolution of possible conflicts between participants and EEP coordinator regarding the implementation of recommendations

× Proposed new (non-EAZA) participants

× Conservation activities

× Approval of non-EAZA EEP participants

× Appointment of advisors