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Protecting our endangered sheep

Hello! My name is Haley, and I am a keeper at Outback Station here at Zoo Atlanta. Before I came to work at Outback Station, I was an educator in the Education Department and got to spend a lot of my time on grounds spreading the mission of the Zoo to all of you wonderful guests.

As many of you know, Zoo Atlanta is very involved with conservation efforts for many of the species you can find at the Zoo. For example, the golden lion tamarins and the Panamanian golden frogs are both endangered species that Zoo Atlanta has worked on conservation efforts with.

Did you know, however, that domestic breeds of animals can be endangered too? It is true, and we have a breed that calls the Zoo home! Sven and Olaf are two Gulf Coast native sheep who came to Zoo Atlanta in 2018. Gulf Coast native sheep are a breed of sheep developed in Florida in the 1500s. Gulf Coast native sheep are not the only endangered breed of sheep, either! There are eight breeds of endangered sheep in the United States, and that just the sheep!

Most domestic livestock breeds are becoming endangered due to commercial farming. Commercial farming favors a few select breeds of livestock that work well for the needs at hand and not the special breeds our forefathers bred. Inevitably older breeds of livestock are not bred as often as they were before and they now becoming harder and harder to find.

The good news is that we can do something to help! Just like with their wild counterparts, we can work to help preserve older breeds of livestock. Every breed and species is unique and important to the world we live in and it is up to us to help protect them.

Haley B.
Keeper I, Ambassador Animals

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