Managing animals means managing the particularities of a living collection: demographic and health management (birth planning, placing surplus animals, etc.), managing the requirements related to presentation to the public and welcoming visitors. Special attention is paid to endangered species, for whom zoos are sometimes the last refuge.
Introducing wild animals in balanced social groups involves significant constraints. The large enclosures at the Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche (Haute-Touche Animal Reserve) cannot accommodate the large numbers of births that take place each year or the entire population of an endangered animal species and guarantee its conservation.
For each species, the animals are kept at multiple sites and breeding programmes are conducted with other zoos on a regular basis. These exchanges help to encourage the genetic mixing of populations between conservation sites. Animal transfers are made free of charge for the purposes of reproduction or presentation.
The Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche is a member of the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria). More than 300 European zoological institutions are members of the EAZA and all of these are bound by a set of specifications which commits them to, among other things, to respecting the concerted management procedures for the wildlife species entrusted to them.
Within the EAZA, the most endangered species are managed by the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), which is coordinated by specialists for each of the species in question. Haute Touche is home to 23 EEP species, such as the Przewalski's horse, the markhor, the dhole, the Sumatran tiger and the cheetah. Each programme leader determines the management direction for the species (or group of species) that they are in charge of.
Some species are covered by the European Studbooks (ESB) which means that an inventory can be made of the individuals in captive population and their bloodlines can be traced. 17 species at Haute Touche are covered by the ESB, including the Nubian ibex, which the Reserve’s collection manager has been managing since 2011.