Bringing Ferrets Back to the Prairies

You won’t find black-footed ferrets at the Calgary Zoo, but they are a big part of our conservation efforts. Working with Parks Canada, our researchers study and help reintroduce these ferrets into Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan. When they’re out in the field finding ferrets, zoo scientists are also on the lookout for black-tailed prairie dogs. The two species are an incredible example of a predator-prey system that has been evolving since the Ice Age.

Conservation Status

Source: IUCN

Zoo Researchers as Grassland Guardians

As the sun sets on Saskatchewan’s short-grass prairie, the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research team pulls off to the side of the road in Grasslands National Park and collects their equipment to head off into the gathering darkness.

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Black-footed ferrets were thought to be globally extinct until a small group was discovered in 1981 in Wyoming by a ranch dog named Shep.

At a Glance

Scientific Name

Mustela nigripes


0.75 - 1.2 kg (1.7 - 2.6 lb.)


Length of 0.5 m (1.6 ft.)

Conservation Status



Short grass and mixed grass prairie where prairie dogs are present


Prairie dogs

Are you ready to make some new animal friends?

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