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While species with very small populations may show no visible signs of inbreeding, it is still present in subsequent generations, as is genetic drift. The result is a loss of genetic diversity. This can be overcome in species which reproduce rapidly and in large numbers (like mice) because there is a greater probability of gene mutations occurring.
One of the side-effects of a lack of genetic diversity means that the entire population is susceptible to disease, there is no natural (=genetic) immunity. It also limits their ability to adapt to change in their environment. While the bird species listed above might survive for many generations to come, in the future they may find themselves in the same situation as the cheetah is in today (the cheetah is believed to have survived a genetic bottleneck - only 15 animals about 10,000 years ago - and today exhibit virtually no genetic diversity and little disease resistance).
Having said that, birds can reproduce faster than cheetahs and the populations of the species listed above have been managed (by people) to maintain as much diversity as possible, so they're in a better position than the cheetahs were.
Well here is the funny thing, the elite animals aren't picked out by children, but by the adults. I remember when i was little my favorite animal to see was the tapir, im sure it had to do with something about the nose. Today I really love to see the clouded leopard and the babirusa over the tiger and elephants at Lowry.
I think in part it is also because of the enclosures now a days. The tiger is always pacing by the back wall and the view I see is from the bridge is a distant one since they bricked in the glass viewing area tunnel many eons ago. The clouded leopards are normally never active, but the view is through harp string wire and they often sleep on a ledge close to the wire. In general tho they are a little difficult to see, but when visible its normally close, or at least much closer then the tiger. The babirusa are often very close and active. I also just like how their tusks look. For some reason as active as the elephants are they just boar me, I don't mind sitting and watching them, but I am no where near as emotionally attached to them and often I just want to move on to find the okapi despite the luxurious elephant exhibit.
I think that also that they should look to different representation subspecies of the elite fauna that do need breeding programs. For example south china tigers are the rarest and right now Save China's tigers are trying to breed and rewild these the few tigers found in china's zoos. Instead of white rhino there could be java rhino. Though, talking the government into allowing anyone to remove a few from the island hasn't gone well. That was also one of the reasons the Vietnam subspecies had gone extinct, they would not allow for their removal of theirs to Java and Java would not allow a few of theirs to be sent to Vietnam. A good example of this elite trade off has been the Sumatran Rhinos. They have become very popular over at Cincinnati Zoo from my understanding. Also, here in America there are no Asian Lions, but plenty of African. Also how about a switch to Borneo elephant instead of African?
I wish that zoos could send excess animals out to sites that could rewild animals of a variety of species. Zoos could be the sort of "factories" to pump out animals for the wild. In many readings it always sounds like this is what they are trying to achieve, yet I never hear about animals being sent back out. If there was a rotation of animals brought in for breeding for a couple years then traded back for another wild animal it would allow for more genetic diversity without having to maintain the animal for the duration of its life in captivity. With carnivores care must be taken to diminish any association with people and food. So maybe that wouldn't be the best rout for say a tiger, they would be too accustomed to people, but it would work for say a vaquita dolphin. It might even promote the tourism there if they weren't as shy and allow for fishermen to make money another way instead of casting nets that are the main threat to these dolphins.
Last edited by DejaVuKatz; 16-03-2012 at 04:23 PM..
I think that he makes some good points about zoos needing to undertake honest self-reflection and criticism about their missions and how well they are meeting them.
He says that zoos should not highlight megafauna species in their promotions, which I find puzzling. He asserts that small species make the best exhibits for promoting biodiversity lessons. I wonder if there is any kind of research to back up what he says here, or if it is primarily his opinion:
"Zoos with welfare at their heart would raise new standards of
awareness of animalsí needs; would recognize the impossibility of
satisfying the needs of many traditional zoo species; would give new
attention to all the small species that do well in captivity, many of
which used to be common in zoos but through negligence have
disappeared. Zoos would then realize that smaller species can better
promote biodiversity awareness and allow more illustrative stories;
they would discover they can create and maintain more convincingly
naturalistic exhibits; and with very small life forms promote more direct
examples of interdependence and interconnectedness, and thereby
more effective ecology based stories."