CINCINNATI -- Too many left swipes on Tinder? Struck out on Match.com?
Maybe you just need a committee of matchmakers like the animals at the Cincinnati Zoo.
When it comes to making zoo babies, the zoo staff doesn’t horse around.
Zoo Director Thane Maynard calls their system an animal version of “Match.com.”
“It’s very carefully decided, a little like Match.com -- who’s going to hook up with whom,” Maynard said.
It's not exactly like Match.com -- animals are managed through Species Survival Plans, committees of animal experts who care for a particular species and enter records into a database. There are 450 Species Survival Plans, each devoted to a specific species. The database is the only part of the breeding process that is computerized.
A recent baby boom at the Cincinnati Zoo has meant the births of several animals, including world-famous Fiona the hippo.
Contrary to what some of #TeamFiona may believe, she’s not the only special baby to be born at the zoo this year.
"We have had very rare animals -- three baby ring-tailed lemurs, three Malayan tiger cubs (critically endangered), a baby red panda and a baby black rhino (also critically endangered),” Maynard said.
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The process is complicated. Maynard said the Cincinnati Zoo has a dozen people involved in committees that are charged with the match-making decisions.
“The head of our primates is on the committee for gorillas and bonobos, one of our curators is on the committee for Malayan tigers, one runs the program for all of the African painted dogs, so a number of our staff are a part of these international cooperative plans,” Maynard said.
The experts pay special attention to which animals are related in an effort to promote genetic diversity.
Ron Evans, a curator for primates, said sometimes other traits, like personality, are involved in finding the perfect match.
“We consider social dynamics of groups … you don’t want to send any animal anywhere and not know how that animal might get along with the other animal,” Evans said.
Just as breeding is carefully planned, a lot of the animals are on birth control to manage the population, Maynard said.
The zoo’s “Match.com” system is vital in their effort to save endangered species.
“The importance can’t be overstated for zoos,” Maynard said.