The Role of Zoos in Wildlife Conservation

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The Role of Zoos in
Wildlife Conservation
An estimated 600 million
people will visit a zoo
within the next year.
That’s 1 out of every 10
people on the planet.
What’s the attraction?
• Entertainment
• Education
• Biophilia- “love of life or living systems”
• Reminders that we’re not the only ones who
live on this planet.
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• To understand the role of Zoos, we have to
understand about our history with animals.
• For the majority of our time as humans, that
relationship has been about two things:
Domestication
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Dogs (from wolves) - 15-35,000 years ago
Sheep
-11-13,000 years ago
Goats
-12,000 years ago
Cows
-10,000 years ago
Chickens
- 4,500 years ago
Elephants
- 4,500 years ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_animals
First known zoo-type collections
• Eygpt, ~2,500 BC Some pharaohs maintained huge
numbers of animals (Ramses II had giraffes, lions, ostrich)
• Syria, 1,500 BC King Thutmose III kept
monkeys, leopards, birds, giraffe
• Babylonia, 600 BC King Nebuchadnezzar
collected lions
• King Solomon collected animals from Africa
and Asia (as well as women- 700 wives and
300 concubines)
• China- ~400 BC- “Garden of Intelligence”
1500 acre menagerie
Aristotle
• 4th century BC, extensive Greek
menageries allow Aristotle to conduct the
first systematic zoological survey• “The History of Animals” described 300
vertebrate species
…and then there was Rome
• Rome
– With the expansion of the Holy Roman Empire,
conquerors radiated out of the Mediterranean into
Africa, the Middles East, Asia, Europe
– Brought in animals by the thousands
– Unfortunately, they were also good at record keeping
– Single day’s slaughter might include >100 bears, >400
leopards, >500 lions
(to put 500 lions in perspective, that would wipe out the
entire population of lions living in Asia)
Tower of London
“Martha” September 1, 1914
Role of the Modern Zoo
• Recreation
• Education
• Conservation
• Research
1970’s
1990’s
1980’s
• Through the 1970’s, zoos probably
had a negative effect on wildlife
populations
• Many of the animals were still taken
from the wild.
• Few efforts were in place to put
animals back.
Ex-Situ Contributions
• Research
– Captive breeding
– Veterinary care
• Opportunity to work directly with animals that are otherwise
inaccessible
• Contributes to research methods for animals in the wild
– Husbandry & Caretaking
• Diet
– Behavioral Research
• Behavioral enrichment
Species Survival Plan (SSP)
• Established in 1981 to provide guidance for
captive breeding of endangered species to
maintain genetically diverse and healthy
populations of animals in zoos.
• Think of it as a fancy computer dating
service for animals.
• Zoo’s “ Bread & Butter”
Sumatran Rhino
Ex-Situ Conservation
• Captive breeding
– Artificial insemination
– Embryo transfers
– Frozen embryo transfers
– Interspecies embryo transfers
– Cloning
• Seed bank
• “Emergency room methods”
– $$$
Artificial Insemination (AI)
Artificial Insemination (AI)
Frozen Zoos
CryoBioBank
Zoos as conservation centers
• 1970’s- increasing ecological awareness
• Zoos once again find that many of the
animals they have in their collections are
disappearing in (or have disappeared from)
the wild.
• And a new conservation status category is
created: “Extinct in the Wild”
IUCN Red Data List
Extinct in the Wild
Extinct in the Wild
Micronesian Kingfisher
Guam Rail
Pere David’s Deer
Bali Mynah
Mohr’s gazelle
Arabian oryx
Waldrapp Ibis
• thought to have been extinct in the wild
• other population found based on
conversations with Bedouin
traders
only exist in captivity
Captive breeding not limited to zoos
• Specialized breeding facilities that are
closed to the public
• Many specialized avian and felid breeding
facilities
Clouded leopards
Mauritius kestrel
Lonesome George- last surviving Pinta Island Tortoise
Reintroduction efforts
• Long stated goal of zoo breeding programs
• Not implemented quite as much - why?
California Condor
Peregrine Falcon
Black-footed Ferret
Red Wolf
Golden Lion Tamarin
Vast improvements in
exhibit design and
animal care
accompanied by
increased reproductive
success
A Window on the Wild…
• Partnership between the Cincinnati Zoo (later
other zoos) and the World Wildlife Fund
in-situ (Lat.)
“in the natural state, in the wild”
• Zoos supporting conservation efforts or
partnerships in the wild
• Usually focused on species found on zoo’s
grounds
• Provide vital support and, in turn, receive
updates from the field, lectures, recognition
as partner in helping with species’
conservation
In-Situ Conservation
-Cincinnati Zoo Conservation Fund-
Many zoos now supporting
conservation in the wild
• Bronx Zoo- Wildlife Conservation Society
• Disney’s Animal Kingdom
• Woodland Park Zoo (here in Seattle!)
• London Zoological Society
• Columbus Zoo
AZA
• Association of Zoos and Aquariums
http://www.aza.org
• Accreditation organization
• Oversees and manages SSP
ZACC
• Zoos & Aquariums Committing to Conservation
• Group that was formed to accelerate zoos’ focus
on both ex-situ and in-situ conservation efforts
• Meetings mix of zoo folk looking to get involved in
the field, and wildlife biologists seeking
partnerships and funding
• Great win-win relationship
Zoo Careers
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Keeper/Animal Caretaker
Aquarists
Commissary/dietician
Veterinarian/Vet Techs
Horticulturalist/Gardener
Behavioral enrichment specialist
Reproductive technician
Accounting
Marketing/Publicity/Media
Relations
Food Service
Gift Shops/Vendors
Grant writers
Business Operations
Writers
Seasonal
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Animal trainers
Development
Security
Maintenance
Plumbers
Electricians
Artists
Exhibit designers
Photographer/videographer
Educators
Distance Learning Technicians
Special Events
First Aid
IT
Litter
Administration/Directors
Suggested Readings
• The Crowded Ark by Jon Luoma
• Zoos in the 21st Century: Catalysts for
Conservation? (Cambridge University
Press)
• Hope for the Animals and Their World by
Jane Goodall and Thane Maynard
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