About the Felid TAG

Canada Lynx
Canada lynx (Photo: Mike Dulaney)

In 1990, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) developed a system for examining and managing the conservation and management needs of groups of related species, or taxa. These groups are called TAGs, short for Taxon Advisory Groups. Examples of some basic taxonomic groups for which AZA TAGs exist are amphibians, antelopes, penguins, and marine fish. Each TAG consists of representatives from AZA-member institutions, as well as individuals with special expertise, such as AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinators and studbook keepers.

What is the Felid TAG?

The Felid TAG is a committee of advisors with expertise in issues relating to wild cats. These advisors hold regular meetings attended by people from both AZA-member institutions and the private sector who have an interest in felids.

The mission of the Felid TAG is to bring together animal managers and scientists to:

  • further conservation of felids in the wild
  • effectively manage felids in AZA zoos throughout North America
  • support scientific research concerning felid species

The Felid TAG provides a forum for discussing husbandry, veterinary, ethical, and other issues that apply to the wild cats housed in AZA-member institutions. TAG advisors also examine animal management techniques based on scientific studies and assist SSP coordinators in developing animal care manuals to present best practices for the care and welfare of felid species. TAGs also promote cooperation and sharing of information between AZA and other regional and international conservation programs.

Who serves on the Felid TAG?

Click the links below to view a PDF document.

Felid TAG Regional Collection Plan

African Lion
African lion (Photo: Kathy Newton)

One important role of the Felid TAG is to recommend the wild cat species managed by AZA studbooks, SSPs, and other zoo and aquarium-based programs through the regional collection planning (RCP) process. The RCP helps animal managers determine which species are most in need of conservation programs, establish priorities for management, research and conservation, and recruit qualified individuals to carry out these activities.

In developing the RCP, the TAG takes into account both the limited amount of enclosure space available and the need to maintain animals in populations large enough to ensure their long-term genetic viability and demographics stability. They also consider the potential of selected species to contribute to the conservation action through education, scientific research, fundraising to support field conservation and managed breeding for potential reintroduction. The goal of this careful planning process is that each cat species and individual animal held at AZA zoos and aquariums has a defined conservation or education purpose.

Download the Regional Collection Plan

Felid TAG Conservation Programs

Species Survival Plan

The Felid TAG manages conservation programs for the 18 species of wild cats listed below. An AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program strives to manage and conserve a select and typically threatened or endangered, ex situ species population with the cooperation of AZA-accredited institutions. SSP Programs develop a Breeding and Transfer Plan that identifies population management goals and recommendations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population.

For more information on each cat, go to the Education page.

Felid TAG Programs Poster
Click thumbnail to view poster.

Felid TAG Annual Conference

The Felid TAG holds an annual conference. Each year, the meeting agenda is focused on one special topic to allow more in-depth interaction and discussion of specific felid-related issues.

This year, the Felid TAG was held at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and included a post conference trip to The Wilds.

Felid TAG 2013 Silent Auction
Participants look over items at the 2013 Felid TAG Conference's silent auction. (Photo: Shasta Bray)

AZA Felid TAG Network

If you would like updates join the AZA Felid TAG network, for help contact TAG Secretary, Ashleigh Lutz-Nelson at AshleighL@sfzoo.org.

Felid TAG Times Archives

The Felid TAG produces a quarterly e-newsletter, the Felid TAG Times, which is distributed via the list serv. The Felid TAG Times is edited by the Felid TAG Education Advisor. Submission deadlines are January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.

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