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?
A current list of Felid TAG representatives and their contact information can be found in the documents listed below.
Felid TAG Regional Collection Plan
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.
To access and download a copy of the current Regional Collection Plan please visit the TAG Documents page.
Felid TAG Conservation Programs
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.
- African lion
- Amur leopard
- Black-footed cat
- Canada lynx
- Clouded leopard
- Fishing cat
- Pallas’ cat
- Sand cat
- Snow leopard
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.
Participants look over items at the 2013 Felid TAG Conference’s silent auction. (Photo: Shasta Bray)
Felid TAG List Serv
If you would like to join the Felid TAG list serv, send your request to TAG Secretary, Ashleigh Lutz-Nelson at AshleighL@sfzoo.org.
Felid TAG Times (Newsletters)
The Felid TAG produces a quarterly e-newsletter, the Felid TAG Times, which is distributed via the list serv. Access the current and archived issues here. The Felid TAG Times is edited by Shasta Bray, Felid TAG Education Advisor. Please send comments, suggestions, and submissions to Shasta.firstname.lastname@example.org. Submission deadlines are January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.