PORTLAND -- The white cheeked gibbons hanging out at the Oregon Zoo on a rainy Tuesday actually belong to another zoo. They're in Oregon as part of a breeding exchange program.
The zoo's deputy director says it’s important to introduce new blood lines.
“We want to make sure father doesn’t breed daughter and brother breeds sister, as had happened years and years ago before these programs came into place," said Chris Pfefferkorn.
That's why the Rodrigues fruit bat is also at the zoo, on loan from the government of Mauritius. Same thing with the mandrill monkeys and even Chendra the elephant, on loan from the state of Sabah in Malaysia.
It turns out the practice is routine. Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo has an elephant and gorilla out on loan to other locations. And the San Diego Zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons says the zoo has hundreds of animals out on loan to other locations, and hundreds more from other zoos at its two parks.
The Oregon Zoo also has a few animals out on loan at other zoos. Some are not expected to return but the zoo keeps technical ownership just in case.
“We maintain control over the animal for their welfare even though they go to other AZA-accredited zoos. I like to make sure that we can ensure that these animals get the best care possible,” said Pfefferkorn. “By retaining ownership that gives us a say at the table. Ownership doesn’t equate to location. Just because we have animals out on loan doesn’t mean automatically they're all coming back."