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Walrus currently in captivity

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by johnstoni., 26 Aug 2011.

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  1. RatioTile

    RatioTile Well-Known Member

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    What about some captive African elephants and rhinos lacking tusks and having sawed-off horns? Is that for safety?
     
  2. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    No. For elephants, its usually to avoid breakage, since if a tusk breaks and splits along the length of the tusk going up to the base it can open up the pulp captivity and lead to infection.

    With Rhinos, who's horns are simply protrusions entirely made out of keratin, and not modified teeth its much different. Their horns are very rarely trimmed in captivity, and if they are, its either to reduce a poaching risk (this is more common in range countries with semi wild animals), or if an animal has a very malformed horn, cutting off the horn could potentially be done as well. You can't really trim a rhino horn, either. Its either leave it be, or chop the whole thing off.
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Could probably carve it into the shape of a logo and make extra money through advertising. Like Nike or Jaguar or something. Zoos should really look into that...
     
  4. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    Hm, you're probably right. I can just see it now...

    "Welcome to the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. Say hello to our girls, Nike, Adidas, Jaguar, and Audi. They're easy enough to tell apart thanks to our patented sponsorship horn carving technologies!"
     
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  5. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    The 3 female Walrusses from Oceangrafic - Valencia have been send to Hagenbeck Hamburg. Here it will be tried to bring them together with breeding-bull Odin.
    In March next year the 3 females will then be send to Paira Daiza where they will get a new enclosure.
     
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  6. Elephant Enthusiast

    Elephant Enthusiast Well-Known Member

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    1.0 Balzak and 0.1 Lakina were transferred from the Vancouver Aquarium to the Aquarium du Québec on November 27, 2019.
    Lakina and Balzak have returned! - Aquarium du Québec | Facebook
    Personal communication with Aquarium du Québec

    0.1 Ninotchka, 0.1 Petrushka, and 0.1 Tanya were transferred from Oceanogràfic Valencia to Tierpark Hagenbeck on December 18, 2019.
    Gewichtige Neuzugänge im Eismeer | Tierpark Hagenbeck
    Tierpark Hagenbeck receives three walruses from Oceanogràfic Valencia - Walrus Network | Facebook
     
  7. AmbikaFan

    AmbikaFan Well-Known Member

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    The worldwide population is so depleted... Is there any way that Canada or some other Arctic country could establish a program to rescue walrus from the wild who have been abandoned by their mothers, injured and unable to survive in the wild, or starved for lack of food? I know Sea World has programs like this, but they're so far from where such walrus might be found.... Rescued animals unable to be returned to the wild are allowed to be taken from the wild under the CITES Treaty. Why doesn't it seem as if anyone is trying? Surely such animals must exist?
     
  8. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    I think the biggest difficulty in that is the normal range of the walrus does not overlap much with humans, so there is a much lower chance of encountering individuals in need of rescue. Additionally walrus are pretty hefty animals, and there's plenty of aggressive circumstances on record from wild individuals. One cannot simply pick up a walrus, even a youngster. There would have to be special equipment strong enough to handle walrus posted at the Arctic outposts specially for the purpose I would suspect. It would also be costly to transport the walrus to the rescue centers, the vast majority being far outside the Arctic Circle. Alaska Sealife Center is probably the closest.
     
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  9. AmbikaFan

    AmbikaFan Well-Known Member

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    But wouldn't it be worth it? To have a contingency population?
     
  10. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Setting aside the logistical issues brought up by @Great Argus (especially that rehab walruses show up infrequently), the reproductive difficulties that already exist with the ones currently in captivity, and the expensive and specialized housing requirements they have... walruses are currently threatened primarily by climate change, a threat that I don't see being mitigated or reversed in the near future. Ex situ conservation only really works for short periods of time; we don't have the capacity to keep and breed most species in isolation for an indefinite number of generations... let alone something as large and resource-intensive as walrus.
     
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  11. AmbikaFan

    AmbikaFan Well-Known Member

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    So extinction in zoos is virtually guaranteed, and climate change is tolling a death knell for the species in the wild. Their extinction seems like a foregone conclusion. Thank you for your explanation; I understand it more fully, but am saddened and somewhat mystified as to why people are resigned to this outcome. Aren't there any groups working at all to save the species?
     
  12. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    It would seem so. We are already seeing a similar situation with polar bears, at least in western zoos.The elderly population is dying off, and breeding is not supplying replacement or new demand. And imports are stuck in red tape. So we are are losing the species. It would not surprise me if walrus start going the same way.
     
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  13. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

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    Polar bears are being bred at quite sustainable levels in Europe.
     
  14. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    That's good to hear, I thought polar bears were struggling in western zoos in general. A more accurate rendition of my above statement would be walrus seem to be experiencing a similar trend to the status of polar bears in North American zoos.
     
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  15. RatioTile

    RatioTile Well-Known Member

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    Both walruses and polar bears are relatively common in Japan, and bred there in several institutions.
     
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  16. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Not that similar besides the ultimate outcome. Walruses have never been that common or prolific, although maybe a bit more so in the past. There has never what you would call a viable captive population in the US. Polar bears, however, were so common and prolific that many males were castrated and females put on birth control that seems to have permanently impaired their ability to conceive; meanwhile, red tape on the USFWS's side has prevented some rehab bears from breeding and importation from abroad is blocked by MMPA legislation. Come to think of it, that may also be a reason why we don't get more walruses.

    I didn't say any of that. Zoos here are still working to try and breed the small population, with at least some success. As noted, they are also bred in other countries. Their extinction in the wild is also not quite a foregone conclusion; in fact, it's not clear exactly how and to what degree walruses are being affected by climate change. It's possible that some of them will adapt and persist, albeit in much smaller numbers.

    As for people being "resigned to the outcome", there are millions of people working to slow down or halt carbon emissions and prevent a climate change disaster - but even so, the world is already set to heat up some more, and probably a lot more because of how slow that progress is in many countries. I don't think there's anything else to do for walruses and polar bears besides saving their habitat; if we fail at that, what exactly is the point of keeping them around? They would be nothing but a relic of a lost world.
     
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  17. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    From what has been reported this year, it looks as though the Polar Bear is not 'struggling' in the west. It may be so in North America, but that the the political choice of the Government and not the fault of the zoos.

    Personally I do not see them as a 'relic of a lost world' to be condemned to extinction. It is possible that future generations will solve the current problems, and stocks of every possible species to give them the choice and opportunity is the best legacy we can leave. I do not agree either with the recently voiced minority view that all zoos should be closed and the remaining captive Polar Bears, along with everything else, should be released into the wild (to die?) - this is equally selfish.
     
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  18. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I also do not see them that way; I think we should do everything we can to prevent their habitat from disappearing and helping the current populations weather the crisis. That being said, I don't see the point in keeping stocks of them around with the hope that the conditions necessary for them will return one day. We don't have the capacity to recreate entire food chains; keeping polar bears and walruses is great, but what about the seals the polar bears eat? What about the fish and marine invertebrates the seals and walruses eat? What about the microorganisms that the fish and marine invertebrates feed on?

    Let's imagine that, through technological innovation and a miraculous amount of foresight, we are able to return the world to its previous temperatures and recreate the right habitat for mammals species that we continued propagating in captivity. Then what? Hunting and surviving in the Arctic is mostly learned behavior for mammals. We would have to teach polar bears to hunt, to raise their young, to build a den. Most won't figure it out and will die; the few that do will have greatly reduced genetic diversity. That's exactly what happened with golden lion tamarins being released back into the Atlantic Rainforest... and even then, they had not gone completely extinct in the wild yet, their habitat had never completely disappeared, and they had been in captivity for only a couple or few generations. It could be centuries before the technology to do these things arises, if it ever arises at all. And if we want to hope for these outcomes, and have contingency plans in place in case they do, wouldn't it make more sense to keep warehouses full of frozen gametes than an entire captive population of live animals?

    I'm not trying to argue that conserving walruses is a waste of time; I'm simply stating what I see as the limitations of ex situ work, and how difficult it can be to save species with that strategy even when you know your timeline and endgame. I'm all for building up a population of them in captivity for research, education, and possibly specific reintroduction programs, but I'm not going to put faith in it as a long-term solution.
     
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  19. AmbikaFan

    AmbikaFan Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for your thoughts. It's been very discouraging having a president who, for corporate profit, chooses to claim global warming as a hoax, withdraw us from the Paris Accord, and roll back regulations protecting the environment every day. But I had totally forgotten the potential savior of embryo and sperm banks and DNA cloning that is already well under way toward "recreating" black rhinos in SDSP. This offers the hope I guess I was hoping for.
     
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  20. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Video of the transport :