In the wake of the catastrophic wildfire on Mount Graham, the Phoenix Zoo has taken in four Mount Graham red squirrels in case it becomes necessary to restore the species in the wild.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists trapped two males and two females to serve as a seed population. They are now settling in to their temporary habitat at the zoo's Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Native Species Conservation Center.
The Pinaleño Mountains, which include Mount Graham, are home to the only population of Mount Graham red squirrels. They have been listed as endangered since 1987, according to a news release.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also considering a pilot breeding program for the Mount Graham red squirrel. So it's possible the four squirrels could remain at the Zoo for that program, or they could return to Mount Graham once the fire danger has passed.