Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by vogelcommando, 31 Oct 2015.
Are Pandas worth it ? :
Are pandas worth it?
Very interesting article. It would be interesting to know how much of the money zoos pay for their panda goes to real conservation in the field, that might benefit the ecosystem and other species than panda.... It may even create a false image that zoos are helping "conservation" with the panda, where the space could better be used for species that need a breeding program outside of China and money that could also be used to save African vultures for example....
Imo zoos could better invest in in situ conservation not related to panda, because China (and the WWF) will never allow them to go extinct anyway. That costs much less for the zoo, but it won't draw in any extra visitors unfortunately. It would be interesting to research to what extent panda in zoo are actually flagship species for conservation and to what extent it spurs people to change their habit/ donate money... (I expect very little....).
Best line in article
blame the victim!
Although concentrating conservation efforts to a single species (e.g. giant pandas) may not always be worth it in the long term, in some cases keystone species and ambassador species are well worth the money. A cliche examples of keystone species includes the wolves at Yellowstone and the benefits of wolf conservation. The panda program is less obvious compared to the wolf situation, but there is a recent study (https://nicholas.duke.edu/news/chinas-protection-giant-pandas-good-other-species) that explains how the ambassador species like pandas, albeit not necessarily beneficial to the environment, can be utilized to protect the habitat of other species through wildlife reserves with the pandas as an umbrella species.
This is what I was thinking. Charismatic megafauna and the like. Sure, it would be great if more people cared about the obscure animals that are more endangered, or have a better shot of surviving, or are more important to the environment... But if they share habitat with a charismatic species, you can use the popularity of that animal to protect the others. Pandas need lots of space, and protecting panda habitat would mean protecting a lot of land for other species.
And in the context of zoo resources... One could argue that pandas bring in lots more guests than if the zoo didn't have pandas, and that money can go to other animals at the zoo. It's why there are certain popular animal species that you see at pretty much every zoo.
Of course, one can argue this. But is this a legitimate argument?
I've yet to see a definitive answer to this question on this site. Although it's clear quite a lot of people see pandas as a net drain on a zoo's resources.
Sure that these umbrella species will help to protect habitats from which other species also profit and from which most importantly ecosystem health will profit. But that was not my point, my question was how much of this money paid by western zoos to exhibit panda, does really go to this type of conservation....
True, especially since zoos outside of China have to pay a loooot of money to have pandas. I wonder how this kind of thing could be calculated? Does having a certain animal make or break a guest's decision to go to the zoo? Do the pandas encourage repeat visits? Do they promote souvenir sales?
How China's booming panda business works - CNNMoney
Zoos weigh up the costs of China's 'pandanomics' | World news | The Guardian
The economics of giant pandas | Marketplace.org
It is hard to say how much money of the panda loan will be used for in-situ conservation, since the money will not go directly to the reserves. But at least it will make China government realize that giant panda is a precious or "expensive" species and the conservation of giant pandas is profitable rather than "a waste of money". Since giant panda is an umbrella species, the conservation of it can benefit many other species, including red panda, takin, serow, musk deer. Just for an example, the last stronghold of Asiatic golden cat in China may be just within the giant panda range.
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