The Smeetons initiated the swift fox reintroduction program in Canada in 1972, six years before the species was declared extirpated in Canada. All animals held at the CEI are destined for reintroduction. They are not maintained for public exhibit, trade, or sale. Over the 26 years of its existence the CEI has also been an integral part of the Canadian Wildlife Service's Trumpeter swan (Cygnus bucinnator) and wood bison (B.b.athabascae) reintroduction programs, as well as playing a key role in the Canadian swift fox reintroduction program. The CEI is unique in that it holds the world's longest established (1972), largest (20 pairs), and only captive breeding colony of swift fox. These animals are bred solely for reintroduction as part of the CEI's ecosystem restoration program. Internationally, as species and habitat vanish, the concept of ecosystem restoration through the reintroduction of indigenous flora and fauna, is gaining greater and greater prominence. The preservation of habitat without those species, which made that habitat a viable whole, is a sterile exercise.
The CEI also serves as a referee for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).