The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Cat House maintains and breeds some of the most genetically-valuable small cats in the world, including founders for the Brazilian ocelot, Pallas’ cat, black-footed cat and fishing cat SSP populations. In 2004, sand cats were added to our founder population following the importation of four breeding pairs from Qatar by the Living Desert Zoo in California. Although these new founders provided a substantial boost to sand cat genetic diversity, the small size (~35 cats) of the SSP population requires improved breeding management as well as the periodic introduction of more founders over the next 50 years. CREW scientists, working in collaboration with the Living Desert, other U.S. zoos and the Al Ain Zoo in the United Arab Emirates, are attempting to address both of these management needs. A two-year research study funded by the Morris Animal Foundation supported our application of fecal hormone analysis and semen evaluation to characterize basal reproductive traits in sand cats to help zoos to optimize natural breeding. In an ongoing project, semen was collected from four male sand cats at the Al Ain Zoo, frozen and then imported to be used for in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures with female sand cats in U.S. zoos. Any offspring that are produced will represent new founders for the SSP population – without requiring the transoceanic transport of living sand cats from the Middle East.