The recent forum on Euthanasia of healthy animals in zoos focused on an animal which was part of an EAZA controlled ex situ conservation breeding programme. Copenhagen zoo justified their action as being a necessary step in maintaining a genetically sound programme. Linked to the discussion was an article by Colin Tudge Head over heart: why Marius the giraffe had to die - Telegraph where he states “Modern zoos are, or should be, a very far cry from old-style menageries, and they cannot be justified at all unless they contribute to conservation.” While the educational potential of zoos to influence the 700 million annual visitors is undisputed, the ex situ breeding programmes may be a waste of resources and serve little practical purpose. Apart from a limited number of invertebrates in London Zoo, some Przewalski horses and Scimitar oryx elsewhere, very few zoo specimens will, or should, be returned to the wild. Captive conditions frequently result in animals unsuitable for release and natural habitat is often already occupied or under threat. Using zoo animals to save wild populations may be a pipe dream. EAZA has over 600 breeding or monitoring programmes and AZA several hundred. Although the “last resort” hypothesis may be valid for some species, like the Black-footed ferret or California condor, in situ protection would seem to be the way forward and zoos should perhaps become more involved in this direction.