Queens Zoo breeding New England cottontails

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You've probably seen New England cottontails scampering around a yard or dashing into the woods. They are so cute, cuddly, and vulnerable. New England cottontails are now under federal protection.

The Wildlife Conservation Society's Queens Zoo, which is one of only two zoos in the country now trying to save the New England cottontails from extinction. New England cottontails at the zoo are not available for public viewing because they're extremely shy and sensitive. So far the zoo has successfully bred 11 New England cottontails.

Queens Zoo's breeding program is part of a collaborative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, agencies from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, hundreds of other partners, and the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Animal curator Scott Silver says elimination of the species could affect the entire ecosystem.

"The New England cottontail is an example of a species that can be saved if enough people and organizations come together to help protect it," Silver said. "We're proud to be part of this amazing coalition of agencies and the Roger Williams Park Zoo dedicated to conserving this ecologically important animal."