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Two endangered black-footed ferrets get snuggled in at the Red River Zoo

An endangered black-footed ferret looks up from its bed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, at the Red River Zoo. He arrived with a female Wednesday and both are on permanent loan as part of a recovery program. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — The Red River Zoo is now home to two black-footed ferrets.

The animals are on permanent loan as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program.

Thought to be extinct until 1981, the black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered animals in North America. However, captive breeding, managed care, and reintroduction programs have helped the species make steps toward recovery, according to the Red River Zoo.

The zoo hopes the new exhibit will inspire citizen stewardship of prairie habitats, where black-footed ferrets have historically lived.

“The ferrets are absolutely delightful,” said Sally Jacobson, the zoo’s executive director. “We are excited to share their conservation story and give our community the opportunity to help ongoing conservation efforts.”

The ferrets can be seen on exhibit daily during zoo hours from 10 a.m. to  7 p.m.