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How should zoos talk to guests about captive breeding?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by TheMightyOrca, 22 Mar 2016.

  1. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Captive breeding can be an effective conservation tool and has been used to save a number of species in the past, and I'm sure will save more in the future. But the key words here are "can be", it's not a failproof technique. Even when it can work, it's best used as a last resort, with habitat protection being the conservation technique of choice. (and even when captive breeding is used, the captive-born offspring still need a habitat to live in)

    Most members of the general public are not very well-informed on the subject. A lot of people seem to think that all captive breeding is good for conservation, and they rarely realize how much work is involved. Despite it being a major aspect of zoos, it doesn't really come up much when the zoo is communicating with visitors.

    So I want to discuss, how do you guys think that zoos should talk about captive breeding?

    As a kid, I went to the Minnesota Zoo a few times, they're pretty involved with Siberian tiger breeding and conservation. I don't know if they still have it, but back then they had a sign display that talked about the work involved in captive breeding. Specifically, it was talking about the importance of pairing up the right animals, the different factors that are involved. (whether the animals are related, if they're close in age, if they're close in location, etc.) Then you were shown the profile of a female tiger and the profiles of several male tigers, and you had to choose the best mate for her. (I failed badly. I was like, 9 or something)

    Today, I think that's really cool and I wish more zoos had something like that. That way, people understand that it's much more complicated than pairing two random animals. Zoos can also go into the other factors taken into account, like how they don't breed animals as often as they technically could for health or resource/space reasons. I'd also like to see more emphasis placed on "captive breeding is no substitute for wild conservation". Even species that are successfully bred in captivity may not be candidates for wild release. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    You appear to discount the conservation value of captive populations. Whether for education or release.
     
  3. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    I'll second what zoo plant man said. Captive breeding programs can indeed play a very crucial role in species survival. Wild conservation is of course a high priority, but sometimes it just isn't enough.

    Several species, such as Micronesian Kingfishers, various partula snails, Hawaiian Crow, Scimitar Horned Oryx, and numerous other species would be completely wiped out from the face of the earth were it not for captive breeding programs.
     
  4. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I'm mostly talking about the context of release. I'm sure you know that many wild populations cannot be saved with captive breeding. Some species cannot survive well in captivity, some species don't breed well in captivity. Even with animals that do, they might not always be suited for wild release. (though I am confident that with more research, we'll be able to see more and more captive bred species be releasable in the future) My concern is that the general public sometimes seems to place too much faith in captive breeding and release as a conservation tool, and I think more zoos should emphasize that while it can be a good conservation tool, it can't save every species. It's not a foolproof plan and even when it can work, it can only do so if wild populations are protected too. I hate seeing so many people have the idea that "Oh, it's going extinct in the wild, but at least there are still some in zoos".

    I should've addressed the education thing in my original post. Maybe for species that can't be released in the near future, perhaps place emphasis on how a captive population is beneficial anyway.
     
  5. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    What do you base this conclusion on?
     
  6. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Admittedly, anecdotal evidence.