Phoenix Zoo works to save Arizona red squirrel population

The Conservation Center at the Phoenix Zoo is trying to save a tiny, red squirrel on the verge of extinction. They're a subspecies only found in Arizona and its population is dwindling.

Mount Graham red squirrels, which are rare tiny creatures, are only about a half-pound in size, and scientists say at most, there were only about 300 living up north.

"They're very restricted to begin with, it's a small population, but unfortunately they've been hit by fires and other disturbances that have greatly reduced their populations," Ruth Allard said.

Allard is the executive vice president of conservation and education at the Phoenix Zoo and this is the fire, she says, that has been the most destructive.

The Frye Fire in June almost wiped out the red squirrel population, and now there may only be 35 left. So, Arizona Game and Fish and others reached out to the zoo and conservation techs are trying to figure out the breeding process for an animal that's used to being isolated.

"We're actually able to establish that a female is able to breed several days instead of one," Kevin Krahn said.

It's promising news, but it's all a work in progress, and so far, there have been many milestones with no new babies. But the feeling is hope that they'll bring this dying population back to life.

"This is an animal that if you didn't have a positive attitude, and you just looked at the facts of they can only breed one day of the year, other than that you won't have success, you would never be able to have success," Allard said.