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Where do zoo animals come from?

 
 
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  #1
Unhappy Where do zoo animals come from?
Old 27-05-2011

Quick question: are most animals in western zoos from captivity (ie, bred in captivity) or caught in the wild? And on average, esp if they are from the wild, is a large population of the animals in zoos unable to live in the wild?
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  #2
Old 27-05-2011

Almost every animal you see in a western zoo was born in captivity. The days of buying wild-caught animals from dealers ended in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

There are only a few rare situations where you would see a wild-caught animal.

1. Orphaned native animals that are unable to survive on their own. These can be babies whose mother was killed or adults who were injured (such as raptors that can no longer fly).

2. Older, long-lived animals that were captured during the 60's or 70's and are still alive. Main examples would be elephants and giant tortoises.

3. In very rare instances, animals whose population is in immediate risk of extinction and the only way to save them is through a captive breeding program. Examples include arabian oryx, california condor, black-footed ferret, iberian lynx. The goal of these programs is invariably for reintroduction to the wild (with a backup population kept in captivity).

4. Individual "problem" animals who are a threat to people or their livelihood and would need to be killed if they were not taken to a zoo. Here in the U.S., this is done most often with bears (both black and grizzly).
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  #3
Old 27-05-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arizona Docent View Post
Almost every animal you see in a western zoo was born in captivity. The days of buying wild-caught animals from dealers ended in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

There are only a few rare situations where you would see a wild-caught animal.

1. Orphaned native animals that are unable to survive on their own. These can be babies whose mother was killed or adults who were injured (such as raptors that can no longer fly).

2. Older, long-lived animals that were captured during the 60's or 70's and are still alive. Main examples would be elephants and giant tortoises.

3. In very rare instances, animals whose population is in immediate risk of extinction and the only way to save them is through a captive breeding program. Examples include arabian oryx, california condor, black-footed ferret, iberian lynx. The goal of these programs is invariably for reintroduction to the wild (with a backup population kept in captivity).

4. Individual "problem" animals who are a threat to people or their livelihood and would need to be killed if they were not taken to a zoo. Here in the U.S., this is done most often with bears (both black and grizzly).
And here in the U.K. with the "problem" polar bear Mercedes who recently passed away at the Highland Wildlife Park at a grand age, gone but not forgotten
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  #4
Old 27-05-2011

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Originally Posted by Arizona Docent View Post
Almost every animal you see in a western zoo was born in captivity. The days of buying wild-caught animals from dealers ended in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

There are only a few rare situations where you would see a wild-caught animal.

1. Orphaned native animals that are unable to survive on their own. These can be babies whose mother was killed or adults who were injured (such as raptors that can no longer fly).

2. Older, long-lived animals that were captured during the 60's or 70's and are still alive. Main examples would be elephants and giant tortoises.

3. In very rare instances, animals whose population is in immediate risk of extinction and the only way to save them is through a captive breeding program. Examples include arabian oryx, california condor, black-footed ferret, iberian lynx. The goal of these programs is invariably for reintroduction to the wild (with a backup population kept in captivity).

4. Individual "problem" animals who are a threat to people or their livelihood and would need to be killed if they were not taken to a zoo. Here in the U.S., this is done most often with bears (both black and grizzly).
Good summary. I'd just add that most saltwater fish and the vast majority of invertebrate species that are displayed in zoos and aquaria are still wild-caught.

Also I suspect there's still some wild-caught reptiles and amphibians coming into zoo collections, though I don't have anything to back that suspicion up with.
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  #5
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Old 27-05-2011

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Originally Posted by CGSwans View Post
Good summary. I'd just add that most saltwater fish and the vast majority of invertebrate species that are displayed in zoos and aquaria are still wild-caught.

Also I suspect there's still some wild-caught reptiles and amphibians coming into zoo collections, though I don't have anything to back that suspicion up with.
Totally good thinking on these two- although, also personally not sure about the amphibians/reptiles.

Do you think the above mentioned aqua creatures are mostly wild caught because of a lack of breeding program for them or what?
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  #6
Old 27-05-2011

Not a great expert, so someone please correct if I've got this wrong...

In the case of (eg) reef fish there's a case for some at least being wild caught, partly as a way of giving reefs value to locals.

One example I know about... Lion fish aren't bred in captivity, partly because it's fiendishly difficult (adults tend to be territorial, and the young live in free floating plankton). However the most common and spectacular species is a pest in some waters, so quite a good idea to catch it!

One source for zoos is actually ilegal imports impounded by customs: London zoo gets a lot of corals this way, and recently got a huge consignment of giant clams, which they've rehomed to various other collections. I should imagine this would also be a route by which they'd obtain birds and reptiles.
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  #7
Old 28-05-2011

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Originally Posted by RowanGreen View Post

One source for zoos is actually ilegal imports impounded by customs: London zoo gets a lot of corals this way, and recently got a huge consignment of giant clams, which they've rehomed to various other collections. I should imagine this would also be a route by which they'd obtain birds and reptiles.
The Los Angeles Zoo got a major collection of reptiles this way also, including their initial Komodo dragons (including the one that bit Sharon Stone's then husband's foot).
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Old 28-05-2011

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Originally Posted by RowanGreen View Post

One source for zoos is actually ilegal imports impounded by customs: London zoo gets a lot of corals this way, and recently got a huge consignment of giant clams, which they've rehomed to various other collections. I should imagine this would also be a route by which they'd obtain birds and reptiles.
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The Los Angeles Zoo got a major collection of reptiles this way also, including their initial Komodo dragons (including the one that bit Sharon Stone's then husband's foot).
I think collecting animals from customs for use in zoos is both a good idea and confusing. Would there be a reason (perhaps stress on the animal or whatnot) why they wouldn't return the foreign animals to their homelands? I am sure the reasons vary by species.

PS: how do you smuggle a komodo dragon???!
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Old 28-05-2011

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Originally Posted by KatherineAlex View Post
PS: how do you smuggle a komodo dragon???!
As an egg or very young animal!
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  #10
Old 28-05-2011

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Originally Posted by KatherineAlex View Post
Do you think the above mentioned aqua creatures are mostly wild caught because of a lack of breeding program for them or what?
I know not much about it, but there is now quickly growing industry of raising aquarium fish and invertebrates. Freshwater ones and many or most sea fish and invertebrates come this way.

If many sea fish and invertebrates are not bred in zoos or public aquariums it is because eg:
- they are abundant in the wild,
- individuals kept in public aquariums are tiny fraction of trade for private aquariums and/or food,
- their biology is poorly known,
- their breeding may be difficult, e.g. raising and feeding tiny freefloating larvae,
- they produce 100's or 10000's of eggs, which cannot be all raised,
- sometimes, part of protection of sea reserves are sustainable breeding or catching programs.

However, some popular sea life eg. clownfish, seahorses, Banggai cardinalfish, jellyfish are bred quite succesfully in public aquariums.
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  #11
Old 28-05-2011

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Originally Posted by KatherineAlex View Post
I think collecting animals from customs for use in zoos is both a good idea and confusing. Would there be a reason (perhaps stress on the animal or whatnot) why they wouldn't return the foreign animals to their homelands? I am sure the reasons vary by species.
KatherineAlex, please check the archives, we discussed it some months ago!
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  #12
Old 28-05-2011

[

PS: how do you smuggle a komodo dragon???![/QUOTE]

They were small juveniles. There were several false gharials in the same smuggling attempt that were also juveniles.
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  #13
Old 30-05-2011

It depends on the group:

Marine Fish: A minority have ever been bred and even in the ones that have been bred repeatedly there are many cases where wild caught still are common (sadly including Banggai cardinalfish but resposible public aquaria and a number of private aquarists are trying to change that). Virtually every public aquarium that has salt water fish has numerous wild caught, including most larger sharks, most stingrays (both stingrays and larger sharks have been bred repeatedly but far too little to meet the demand), almost all morays, lionfish, almost all groupers, almost all anthias, almost all trevallies and relatives, all butterflyfish, almost all larger angelfish, almost all wrasser, all parrotfish, all surgeonfish, all pufferfish, all porcupinefish, almost all marine fish from temperate regions and much, much more. The few exceptions in each of those groups are species that are produced in large quantities by comercial aquaculture that primarily supply the food industry (like humpback grouper and half moon angelfish). Then there are the ones that so far have proven impossible to everybody, like surgeonfish and butterflyfish. There are aquarists that are trying hard to get more marine aquarium fish to breed (like MOFIB) but it is proving very hard and there are still only a few handfuls of species that are regularly bred.

Freshwater Fish: Most are now captive bred but there are also a number of those in captivity that are wild caught, especially when you start looking at the more unusual species. This include some species that you commonly see in public aquaria like electric eel and archer fish (ok, brackish water species and has been bred extremely rarely).

Reptiles and Amphibians: Similar to freshwater fish.

Invertebrates: Almost all insects and arachinids that are seen regularly in zoos are captive bred. An increasing percentage of the corals and sea anemones you see in public aquariums are propagated in captivity but most still have some of wild origin. Octopus are virtually always wild caught.

Birds: Most are captive bred but there are also a few groups where most are wild caught like tanagers, cotingas, trogons and shoebill.

Mammals: Almost all mammals in zoos are now from captive breeding.

I notice the sad smiley next to the question but whether wild caught always is bad can be questioned. Certainly, most of us happily eat fish and most of those are wild caught. Is that better than catching them alive for the trade? In my mind the big question is regulation, i.e. ensuring that wild animal trade is sustainable, doesn't involve endangered species (except if deemed necessary to start a captive breeding program for its survival or there are good educational arguments for bringing it into captivity, like sharks where many people still have the mistaken idea that they are 'killing machines' intent on catching humans), doesn't involve species that invariably die painful deaths in captivity (like some species of butterflyfish that usually die of starvation because it is near-impossible to replicate their wild diet) and that protected areas are respected.
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  #14
Old 08-06-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arizona Docent
Almost every animal you see in a western zoo was born in captivity. The days of buying wild-caught animals from dealers ended in the late 1960's or early 1970's.
There are only a few rare situations where you would see a wild-caught animal.
unless you are meaning "mammal" rather than "animal" this is quite simply not true. Here is an earlier thread on the subject Wild-caught animals in zoos and what I wrote in it then (cut and pasted):

Animals come into zoo collections from the wild all the time, and anyone would have to be naive to think otherwise. You can go through all the animal groups from insects to mammals and name plenty of examples.

If you’re including Aquariums under the ‘zoo’ umbrella, then the vast majority of the marine organisms are taken directly from the wild. Relatively speaking, a miniscule number of marine species have or can be bred in captivity, and even amongst freshwater species the number bred in a sustainable long-term manner is tiny. (Go to your local pet store and check out the aquarium fish – the bread-and-butter species like cichlids, characins, cyprinids etc are mostly bred large-scale in fish-farms in Asia, but a huge number of common home-aquarium fish are still wild-caught. Even amongst catfish, one of the more popular groups, only the callichthyids and loricariids are bred commonly and/or commercially). If public aquariums were to only display captive-bred species then 90% of their stock would be the most common of pet store fish.

Among herptiles (reptiles and amphibians) wild-caught specimens are common-place, probably not least because often zoos obtain their stock from the same source as the private hobbyists, the dealers who import or who are supplied by importers. There are many many herptiles that are being bred in captivity, sometimes in very large numbers, but there are equally many many species that have rarely or never been bred and yet are common in collections (both private and public). Small reptile houses may be populated entirely by captive-bred animals but the larger zoos’ ones certainly aren’t.

Among the birds and mammals the “standard” zoo animals aren’t usually coming in from the wild (think lions, tigers, zebras, hippos, antelope, etc) because they breed so readily in captivity (partly the reason they are standard zoo animals!). In fact you could probably name any number of smaller zoos where the entire mammal collection is captive-bred. BUT the less common species are still often wild-caught. Zoos still take pride in having species that other zoos don’t, and these are often from the wild. You often hear of a species being “bred in captivity for the first time” which automatically tells you every other individual ever held in a zoo was taken directly from the wild for exhibition. This is particularly prevalent in birds -- in fact there’s a long thread about the first successful breeding of shoebills on this very forum. Regarding birds also, as in reptiles many smaller birds are obtained from dealers or hobbyists and worldwide the trade in wild-caught birds is staggeringly massive.

Separate issues perhaps are where wild animals are in “rescue” situations, as at the UK’s Monkey World or in rehabilitation centres, and on an entirely different level where wild-caught founders (or additional supporting individuals) are needed for breeding endangered species, the Jersey Zoo being a prime example of this.

Finally, “zoo” is an international word. All the above applies to Western zoos. In for example Asia or Africa, quite often a local zoo’s collection is largely or entirely wild-caught, either directly for the zoo or by way of public donations. Usually there is little or no legislation to prevent this. (As an example, I was at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Sabah, Borneo, the other day and would estimate that two-thirds of their species are from the wild).
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  #15
Old 04-10-2011

I am not sure if dolphins were mentioned before, but where do the dolphins in aquariums come from?

I looked at "The Cove" recently, and they suggested that in Taiji, Japan, they sell the best dolphins to aquariums for $100k. (The rest are killed.)
 


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