Join our zoo community

Do zoos have a place in modern society?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by monkeyarmy, 4 Jun 2015.

  1. monkeyarmy

    monkeyarmy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    31 May 2015
    Posts:
    168
    Location:
    uk
    As requested in previous thread An argument against the place of zoos in modern society:


    Conservation
    More and more zoos are justifying their existence with their involvement in conservation work. Whilst this holds true for a few species ( orangutans, pygmy chameleons etc) in a few institutions it is largely at best a small token akin to a multinational company using recycled plastic bags and declaring themselves environmentally friendly. At its worse the zoo mantra of conservation is misleading. An example of this is breeding programs. Many zoos pride themselves on breeding critically endangered species and swap animals around institutes evolved in the program. Two successful breeding programs are continually cited are those of the black footed ferret to north America and the Arabian oryx, while these have been successful they are just two of hundreds of species on breeding programs. There are moves to reintroduce the lynx to the British isles, experts at lynx UK expect this to be succesful, though they are clearly biased. Despite being part of breeding programs Zsl does not list returning species to the wild on its list of mission goals as seen on page 14 here ZSL Conservation Review 2013

    WWF reported that numbers of wild tigers in India had increased from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,226 in 2014, of the 815 increase 0 were from zoo breeding programs. One of the main barriers to animals on breeding programs being released to the wild is that those who are born in captivity don't have the skills to survive in the wild this begs the question what is the point? Whilst not a breeding centre much can be learnt from Sepilok centre in Borneo that takes baby orangutans who have been orphaned or brought to the centre for various reasons and rehabilitates them in the parks 'jungle school' which teaches the orangutans all the skills to survive in the jungle that they would learn from their mothers. Once they have been living and thriving in the semi wild section they are then released in to a protected nature reserve patrolled by rangers to prevent poaching. This is obviously fine for young primates but would prove much more difficult iff not impossible with tigers or other large carnivores due to the danger involved. If this hurdle could be overcome there are more barriers. To protect wild populations species that are to be returned to the wild have to undergo genetic testing to see what genus they are to highlight which locality they are. They then have DNA profiles to check for signs of inbreeding, due to the relatively small gene pool on the books of breeding programs many animals on the breeding programs are related in some way and therefore can not be released to protect wild populations

    Zoo's use the argument that building captive populations guarantee the future of the species, but is this a red herring much like the multinational using recycled bags but having a massive carbon footprint? Large captive populations can create a false sense of security and does not solve or even address the problems that have lead to the species to be endangered in the first place. If zoos are serious about conservation they need to take a multilayer approach engaging those who visit their exhibits to the issues for example Palm olive farms destroying orangutans habitat and what they can do i.e. buy Palm oil free products. Zoo's also need to work with the populations living in the habitat of the endangered animals in a meaningful way. It is unproductive to tell farmers that rely on Palm oil to feed their families they must stop without offering an alternative. The two of the largest, in reputation and popularity not size, zoos made significant profits zsl (7 million) and Chester (2.5 million) profits which could be used to provide either sustainable farms for the Palm oil farmers that don't impact on orangutans or create other forms of employment. Other zoos may have greater or lesser profits but aren't registered charities so financial records aren't available.

    Therefore conservation efforts are lacking at best and at worse a Micky mouse attempt to justify holding animals captive for profit and entertainment.

    Next ethics, morality and research.
     
  2. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 Oct 2010
    Posts:
    1,428
    Location:
    Dorset, UK
    I am starting to resent an anti-zoo presence on a forum for zoo enthusiasts. I work in zoos, and deeply value their place in society. I'm not getting into any arguments, but believe passionately in zoos and their continued existence.
     
  3. dean

    dean Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Aug 2012
    Posts:
    712
    Location:
    North Essex.
    why are you on this site monkeyarmy?
     
  4. monkeyarmy

    monkeyarmy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    31 May 2015
    Posts:
    168
    Location:
    uk
    I believe passionately in many things it doesn't mean they are right. It's not an argument it's an intelligent debate, if your side is well I like them so they are ok, that is of course your right to have that opinion but it doesn't address the issues caused by zoos
     
  5. monkeyarmy

    monkeyarmy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    31 May 2015
    Posts:
    168
    Location:
    uk
    I'm here mainly to see what improvements have been made in zoos, there are many, and to see if my opinion can be changed. Most importantly I have as equal right to be here as anyone else if your ideals and opinions are that fragile they are threatened by some one having opposing views, well that's your problem not mine.
     
  6. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    3,613
    Location:
    England
    Why do people think throwing money at a problem is the answer?

    Your points are flawed, esp. releasing animals back into the wild.
    1) While the habitat is under threat, there is little point in even considering it, as your are definitely sending the animals to die. But bunny huggers only care about them being free.
    2) Wild Sanctuaries are full to bursting, from what I have seen they are left on a cramped island without even room to feed themselves naturally. Loved to know how many actually survive afterwards. And then this goes back to point one, there is not enough room to release these animals back, why put more pressure on the existing population. Until habitat destruction is tackled there is little hope.
    3) What is your point on inbreeding? In Mountain Gorillas is has been proved a benefit. I don't see why an animal that is healthy but has a percentage of being inbred cannot be released. :confused:

    I see I will get to enjoy reading another thread. Oh and btw my opinion is, in an ideal world we would not need zoos but this ain't an ideal world.
     
  7. monkeyarmy

    monkeyarmy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    31 May 2015
    Posts:
    168
    Location:
    uk
    You'd have to as the breeding programs and the powers that be why inbred animals aren't allowed to be released.

    I'm not suggesting throwing money at the problem which is why I said meaningful work. If the locals have sustainable employment that doesn't inflict on the habitat, then the habitat will recover (hopefully) and the locals will have no need to poach or do other things that effect animals. Of course there is the fact the human population is growing which is putting pressure on habitats but there is little that can be done legally and ethically.
     
  8. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Posts:
    1,043
    Location:
    Changzhou, China
    I'd quite like a Mod to clarify if this is true actually. Obviously all forum members are to be treated equally, but that includes equality in sanctions if you breach forum rules. There seems to be no reason why you couldn't be a member of this forum and yet be anti-zoo, but such a presence is going to have a negative effect on pretty much everyone else's enjoyment of the site.
    I assume this is not the first time this situation has arisen; what is the official position of the forum?
     
  9. jbnbsn99

    jbnbsn99 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    6,254
    Location:
    Texas
    Official position is that as long as anyone behaves themselves, they are welcome. That goes for everyone. Act like decent human beings, and we'll all get along fine.
     
  10. stubeanz

    stubeanz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    26 Mar 2008
    Posts:
    543
    Location:
    hertfordshire, england
    Whilst I can see what you mean, I think you can't start banning people because they have a different view to you. If they start arguments for the sake of it then ban them but I think monkeyarmy is honestly looking for a debate not a fight.

    I would be interested to know what your social enterprise on exotic pets is monkeyarmy ? I know you mentioned it in another thread and it peaked my interest!
     
  11. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    6,673
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    I don't think anyone would dispute that some collections pay mere lip service to the cause of conservation - however even you state that these are "a few" institutions, implying you recognise the majority pay more than lip service. I doubt this admission was intentional.

    Other examples of successful breeding and reintroduction programmes off the top of my head include the ongoing Partulid Global Species Management Programme, whose aims as quoted on the website of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland - one of a number of participatory organisations worldwide - are as follows:

    Several of these aims have been achieved already, whilst others are ongoing processes which are likely to continue indefinitely. It is, however, indisputable that the continued existence of Partula snails is solely due to captive breeding.

    Other taxa who owe their continued existence to captive breeding and reintroduction include the Monserrat Mountain Chicken, the Mauritus Kestrel, the Pere David's Deer and the Przewalski's Horse.

    As such it is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that Arabian Oryx and Black-footed Ferret are in any way unusual in having benefited from the existence of zoological collections.

    However, an entire section of the publication you cite is devoted to the matter of species in whose reintroduction ZSL is involved - you must not have read as far as page 24, whose text I reproduce here, with bold added for emphasis by myself:

    It is indeed true that for conservation efforts to be effective, such measures do need to be taken - however you have made no effort whatsoever to demonstrate that zoological collections fail to perform actions such as those you cite - in fact the very document published by ZSL which you linked to discusses in-situ educational and conservational measures such as these, but as already noted you seem not to have read the document other than the page you mentioned earlier. It also links to a website dedicated to an initiative set up by ZSL solely for the purpose of addressing the palm oil issues you cite:

    Sustainable Palm Oil Platform

    In short, you have merely cited the actions that should be performed, and then taken it as read that these actions are not taken by zoological collections who claim to have conservation aims - along with openly dismissing the relevance of any evidence of reintroduction being a valid and ongoing action - in order to justify the following statement:

     
  12. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    17,363
    Location:
    everywhere
    I would add that nobody has a right to be here. The forum is not a street corner.

    Rules and common sense need to be followed. Trolls and spammers, for example, cannot use the argument that they "have a right to be here".
     
  13. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    30 Sep 2014
    Posts:
    1,104
    Location:
    Ware
    Correct - we do believe in a free society and freedom of speech as soon as we start banning that is a route to nazisam.
     
  14. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,954
    Location:
    New York, USA
    I was not intending to join this thread but here I am.
    This argument is naive. It is not locals doing the massive destruction of habitat in Borneo, Sumatra, Madagascar and much of central Africa. There are huge powerful international interests. In many cases national governments either force locals off the land for corporate purposes or stand by as the corporations themselves do it.
    Providing local jobs is of course nice but will not stop or much slow the destruction of wildlife.

    Who can exert influence, then, on these governments? And who can exert influence on international corporations? Mostly other governments and in many ways First World consumers. Zoos can be instrumental in forging the personal, emotional connections between people and animals that can galvanize action. Citizens are not motivated to boycott or protest via rational argument or TV nature specials. It requires an emotional commitment.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jun 2015
  15. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,954
    Location:
    New York, USA
    Whatever makes you say that captive populations create a false sense of security? What are you basing that assertion on?


    And this is exactly what zoos are doing. Aquariums are promoting Sustainable Seafood as well

    How do you argue both that zoos should finance farmers and that zoos shouldn't exist? I think you'd do well to stick with your premise that they have no place in modern culture and argue how they accomplish nothing and are no longer capable of accomplishing anything. To tweak their behavior is not to your point.
     
  16. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,954
    Location:
    New York, USA
    The problem, it appears, is that you are not very well informed.
    Perhaps you'd like to ask questions about zoos rather than make broad unfounded or poorly researched pronouncements? Then you can decide how you feel about zoos.
     
  17. monkeyarmy

    monkeyarmy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    31 May 2015
    Posts:
    168
    Location:
    uk
    The title is possed as a question not an absolute, therefore I'm not arguing that zoos shouldn't or should exist more how they sit in modern society.

    Where is your evidence that zoos are currently active in working with local communities to try and ensure species do have a future of returning to their habitat ?
     
  18. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    11 Jan 2015
    Posts:
    1,043
    Location:
    Changzhou, China
    Thanks for the clarification, I'm sure we all will.

    Good point stubeanz, I think debate is important. I especially liked how your answer didn't accuse me of promoting an action leading to Nazism.

    There are lots of different view points on the spectrum of pro to anti zoo. I think everyone on here recognises that a bad zoo is a pretty miserable place, but we've also seen enough wonderful ones to know that these are problems with specific institutions rather than the basic concept. Perhaps monkeyarmy could be persuaded to visit Chester or another top UK zoo to see for themselves?
     
  19. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,954
    Location:
    New York, USA
  20. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    6,673
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    As I noted above, the very link you posted to "prove" that ZSL has no interest in reintroduction of taxa - but which in fact did the reverse - also contains copious discussion of the work with local communities in which ZSL is heavily involved.

    And to raise the subject of the other major collection which you directly cited as having high profits, but do not believe puts these profits into conservation projects, this is the website for Act For Wildlife, the in-situ conservation wing of the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo):

    Wildlife Conservation Projects | Endangered Animals | Act for Wildlife