Iberian lynx genetic goals for the Ex situ Programme were established based on recommendations provided by the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group in collaboration with the Iberian lynx in situ conservation managers (Lacy & Vargas 2004). Population modelling using the Programme PM2000 (2004) revealed that it would be impossible to maintain 90% of existing gene diversity for 100 years because the wild population could not withstand extraction of the required 12 founders per year for 5 years. At the time of this first analysis in Spring 2004 there were six wild-caught lynxes already at El Acebuche captive breeding center, a facility that was constructed in 1991 in Doñana National Park, Southeastern Spain. At the same time, modelling suggested the feasibility of maintaining 85% of the existing genetic diversity for the next 30 years. The outcome eventually would be the ex situ management of 60 individuals (30 males, 30 females) as breeding stock
This goal could be attained by adding four founders (mostly cubs or juveniles) per year for 5 years as well as one extra founder every 2 years (from the handicapped lynxes that normally enter rescue centres) for the entire duration of the Programme. This level of extraction rate would have a minor impact on the viability of the wild populations according to the model designed. Following this scheme, the Programme achieved its population target of 60 individuals by 2009, so reintroduction of captive-raised lynxes could begin in 2010.
Originally, modelling predicted the availability of 12 to 13 captive-born lynxes annually from 2011 through 2019. A recent update of the projections, using data from actual captive reproduction over the past 5 years, indicates that the annual number of animals available for release every year will oscillate between 20 and 40 Iberian lynxes.