The Species Restoration Project

Captive breeding and animal re-introduction programs have existed since the 1980’s, and several have shown positive results. For instance, in 1982 only 23 wild California condors remained. Thanks to a captive breeding-reintroduction program at the San Diego Zoo, there are now 405 condors in the wild. But there are so many endangered species needing similar boosts, zoos cannot do it all, and SRP’s exclusive dedication to carefully planned re-introduction offers the best chances of giving these animals a new beginning. A problem of this magnitude requires cooperation and collaboration between many disciplines.

The Species Restoration Project exists to restore ecosystems to their natural state through habitat restoration and wildlife reintroduction. We are committed to serving the animals themselves and the communities that surround their habitat. We look to accomplish this through education and the creation of mutually beneficial relationships between local communities and their environments. We strive to work in collaboration with government organizations, zoos, universities, animal rescue groups, private breeding programs, habitat restoration organizations and volunteer groups to accomplish the goal of species reintroduction. We will assist other organizations in the realization of conservation goals, because we can do more together. This may include activities from coordinating the habitat restoration and wildlife introduction for a breeding program to providing funding for a post-doctoral student who is researching wildlife reintroduction techniques. We will provide the conservation community with what is needed, which includes expertise in habitat restoration, wildlife reintroductions and genetic population management, and monetary needs such as funding and volunteer recruitment.


About The Species Restoration Project


The Species Restoration Project strives to decrease species extinction rates worldwide through conservation and education, by reestablishing self-sustaining populations of locally extinct or endangered species. Success to the Species Restoration Project is the development of stable ecosystems surrounded by a supportive community of people who will continue the cause.

What makes Species Restoration Project viable, solution-directed, and unique? For one thing, its founders share a deep commitment to ecosystem conservation, with a combined total of over 200 years experience and expertise in captive animal management and conservation work.

Executive Director Elliot Handrus has done research and worked on captive breeding programs worldwide for over 30 years, and he and others on the Board of Directors possess an intricate knowledge of current endangered animal and animal habitat restoration needs and potential solutions for meeting those needs.

The founders of Species Restoration Project saw a need for specialization, and by choosing to focus exclusively on restoration of habitats and re-introduction of threatened species into their native habitats. Species Restoration Project plans to collaborate with organizations such as zoos, animal rescue groups, and conservation groups in efficiently allocating funds and resources toward this goal. Through their network of animal conservation experts, Species Restoration Project has the expertise to identify and appropriately place animals in suitable habitats to accelerate progress in achieving everyone’s goal of species preservation and eventual animal self-sufficiency.

The Species Restoration Project is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization, id# 46-0982928.


The Species Restoration Project Plan

Given that the sole focus of the Species Restoration Project is putting endangered animals back where they lived in the past, the organization will be selecting projects identified by zookeepers, conservation groups, government agencies, and animal rescue groups as being in need of re-introduction assistance.

Each project is evaluated and designed to meet the unique needs of the animals involved. SRP determines how and where these animals can be re-introduced and takes steps to achieve this goal. They only re-introduce species into areas where they were found historically, and all re-introductions involve follow-up monitoring. Depending on individual animal needs, this monitoring may include post-release feeding and other support.

Since re-introduction is intended to be a permanent solution, any project must also include pre-release habitat restoration if necessary, and this need will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All re-introductions will be accompanied by education programs as well, particularly focusing on educating people in the areas where the animals are being placed. Unless people in these areas are aware of the reasons for and the importance of animal conservation, they will continue to encroach on animal habitats and engage in activities like killing elephants for their tusks and rhinoceroses for their horns. Educating people about how species conservation benefits them is also part of the SRP mission to make re-introduction both viable and lasting.

These plans, of course, require funding, and as a nonprofit organization, SRP will apply any donations directly to making their projects happen. Each re-introduction program costs millions of dollars, and the public and animal conservation groups can help by sponsoring a project or a particular animal that qualifies for re-introduction. With the help of people who care as much about animal conservation and preservation as SRP does, this dream and mission can become a reality. Click here to find out how you can help.


Executive Director: Elliot Handrus

Executive Director Elliot Handrus holds a Bachelors of Science in Zoology and a Masters of Science in Biology, both from San Diego State University. He has done research and worked on captive breeding programs and species reintroductions worldwide for over 30 years, Elliot lives with his family in Winchester, California. He enjoys travel, spending time with friends and playing and watching a number of sports.



President: Larry Sammarco

Larry spent 41 years in the zoological field, working in Chicago, Tampa and San Diego. He also was one of the originators of the national organization-American Association of Zookeepers. He has served on the board of many organizations, within the zoo field as well as outside the zoo field. These include organizing international sports car racing events and writing the Animal Data Transfer Form which is still extensively used throughout the zoo world.


Vice President: Ken McCafree

Ken has worked in the zoo field for over 30 years. He has served with many national and international conservation organizations. His expertise in animal handling and restraint will aid in many of our future projects, and his relationships with people around the world is invaluable.



Secretary: Leslie Malkus

Leslie is a paralegal, and has been for over 20 years. Her knowledge of organizational procedures and protocols has already been demonstrated to be outstanding.


Treasurer: Aimee Goldcamp

Aimee has worked in the zoological field for over 20 years. Prior to joining our board, she had extensive experience as treasurer for the San Diego chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers.


Director: Charles Tucker

Charlie started his work in zoos at 18 years of age in England. He continues his career in San Diego, working at the Safari Park. One of the most important aspects of any reintroduction is educating the native people, and Charlie brings experience in that discipline.

Director: Thomas Levites

Tom has a diverse background with animals, including working as an exercise rider in Kentucky and working in zoos for over 25 years. He was one of the original people to work with the California Condor program in San Diego, so has vast experience with a very successful reintroduction.


Endangered Species Restoration Projects

The ultimate goal of animal rehabilitation and captive breeding is to re-release wild animals into their native habitats. Please consider sponsoring one or more of these animals who are depending on your generous support to be given a chance to live as they are meant to live and to thrive so they and others of their kind may continue to survive on this planet.

Spiny-Tailed Iguana Reintroduction

This species of iguana is highly endangered for two main reasons: 1) Human consumption: they are a common source of protein, as well as being considered to have medicinal and aphrodisiac benefits; 2) Loss of natural habitat: there is some major deforestation occurring in the area.

We think that successful reintroduction with the iguanas will require our focus on two especially important ingredients. One is education of the local people. In order to ensure that reintroduction will lead to population maintenance in the future, it is critical that the people that live with these creatures understand the importance of these animals to the survival and health of the ecosystem. They of course have to know that there are alternative food sources for their own consumption and nutrition. The other step in reintroducing the iguanas is to set up a breeding colony either here or in Honduras.

We are collaborating with a conservation coalition in Honduras to try and make this happen.

Red Legged Frog Reintroduction

We are working with Riverside County to reintroduce the Red Legged Frog in the Warm Springs area in Murrieta. The first step in this process is removal of invasive species such as Bullfrogs, crawdads and some fish species. The photos show volunteers setting the traps for capture of these species. The traps are checked daily so the invasives can be removed.


The Peninsular Pronghorn Antelope Reintroduction

This venture is in its infancy, but we will be working with a coalition of zoos and governmental organizations as we move forward, in an area east of the Salton Sea.

These magnificent animals were also found right here in the Temecula Valley, so future plans may include putting some of these antelope right here in our own backyard.

The Tri Colored Blackbird Reintroduction

On Friday, February 26, we are going to San Jacinto to do some planting for nesting material for this species. This is being done with Riverside County.  Please let us know if you will be able to help.  It will be going on for several hours, so  if you can make it out for any of this, your time would be huge.  We look forward to seeing you there!


Help Save Endangered Species

As a not for profit organization, The Species Restoration Project needs your help to carry out its mission of re-introducing endangered animals into their native habitats. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation as an animal or project sponsor. To find out about animals and projects in need of sponsors, click this link.

Sponsorship Levels:

  • King of Beasts $10,000 and above
  • Animals’ Best Friend $5000 – $9999
  • Habitat Savior $1000 – $4999
  • Noah’s Ark Patron $500 – $999
  • Second Chance Champion $100 – $499
  • Species Restoration Supporter $10 – $99

For donations by check, send to:

30724 Benton Road Suite 302 #476
Winchester CA 92596

For questions or further information contact:

The Species Restoration Project at: ehandrus@thespeciesrestorationproject.org