Furry little friends from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will soon be joining residents in Orange County.
Fifty endangered Pacific pocket mice will be relocated to acclimation cages in the area of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Pacific pocket mice are the smallest of their species in North America. They disperse the seeds of native plants throughout their habitat and also dig burrows that hydrate and increase nutrient cycling which helps native plants grow.
They were thought to be extinct in the 1980s but were rediscovered in 1993.
In 2012, 30 Pacific pocket mice were brought into the captive breeding program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to help the population recover.
[G] Pacific Pocket Mice to be Relocated to Orange County
"It's a huge responsibility to pull animals out of the wild and into captivity; we prefer to keep them in the wild. But for the Pacific pocket mouse, it got to a point we couldn't recover the species by keeping them in the wild," said Debra Shier, associate director of applied animal ecology for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.
All of the mice will be held in acclimation cages for one week and researchers will replenish the food supply daily to help them adjust to their new habitat.
According to the San Diego Zoo Global, the mice are expect reproduce in the man-made burrows this summer.