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Which species "struggle" in captivity?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Okapi22, 26 Sep 2022.

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  1. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Hi!

    I hope this is ok to write. I'm trying to find a list of species that don't "do well" in captivity [Edit: species that have a few more challenges in terms of management]. I've got a few basics, such as elephants (recent debate in UK, space, health, social structure), cheetahs (diseases only found in captive populations), etc.

    This is all for educational research. Please let me know if this post needs to be removed, or if there is already a thread like this. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: 26 Sep 2022
  2. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Basically, species that are little known and/or have needs that cannot by supplied in captivity. Some commonly-kept species didn't survive long when first kept in zoos. I have a book stating that gorillas lived for about 1 year. Sometimes, species don't breed in captivity due to a lack of knowledge about their needs. Keepers wondered why their gerenuks didn't breed, until they found out that cleaning the females' urine from the enclosure prevented the males determining when the females were in oestrus.
     
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  3. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Thanks for your response! I've read a few bits about gorillas, especially the mountain ones, so might look more into gorillas. :)
     
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  4. Fallax

    Fallax Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Both of these species can have issues but to say they don't "do well" in captivity would be untrue. Elephants and cheetahs have been successfully kept and bred in captivity for a long time. Most of the issues involving them have been solved.
     
  5. Aardwolf

    Aardwolf Well-Known Member

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    "The agents of the New York Zoological Society are constantly on the watch for an opportunity to procure and send hither a good specimen of this wonderful creature; and whenever one arrives, all persons interested are advised to see it immediately - before it dies of sulleness, lack of exercise, and indigestion."

    That's how William Hornaday of the Bronx Zoo described gorillas in the early twentieth century - basically impossible to keep alive. Now, the Bronx has about 20 of them, and births are relatively commonplace. There was a gap of hundreds of years between the birth of the first cheetahs in captivity and the second. That species also breeds reliably these days. Almost any species can be managed successfully with enough understanding of its requirements and allocation of resources. There are exceptions, species that I doubt we'll ever see kept, but the two examples you gave, while posing some challenges, are by no means unmanageable.
     
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  6. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Hi, thank you for your quick response! I completely agree, and that is kind of what I'm looking into - I don't want to say any species isn't completely unmanageable, it's not what I believe, but which are more difficult based on welfare. I suppose I'm interested to see which species are not as common as they are not as easy to manage, if that makes sense? But thank you again, I'm learning from the responses! :)
     
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  7. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Hi, that's why I used apostrophes!! :D I didn't like using that phrase, but it best got the point across for me. I agree with zoos, I'm just looking into some challenges that come with managing certain species; that probably would have been a better title! Thanks again :)
     
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  8. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Elephants and Cheetahs certainly both do well in captivity. Both have kept alive for long periods in captivity for centuries.
     
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  9. Aardwolf

    Aardwolf Well-Known Member

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    If you're looking for a high profile species which can be problematic for zoos, one of the best examples could be polar bear. Visitors love them and there is a very long history of their being kept in zoos. However, they have drawbacks. Breeding has been poor. They are very prone to stereotypic behavior, more so than any other bear in my experience. Exhibits that do meet their needs are large and expensive, which not every zoo is able to accommodate. There have been a few zoos which have just decided to wash their hands of them and say "Forget it. Not worth the headache." To be fair, there are other zoos which want them but find the supply limited.
     
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  10. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Thank you for your reply! I worded it quite badly, sorry. I'm trying to find species that may have more challenges in terms of management and welfare, so I chose elephant due to the recent debate in the UK, etc. I'd love to understand some other species!
     
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  11. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Thank you again, this is very helpful, and more what I was trying to say!! This forum is new to me, and I don't wish to offend with my wording or say anything wrong, I believe in zoos! :D I'll do some research into polar bears then, thank you!! :)
     
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  12. Neil chace

    Neil chace Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Species that come to mind for me are:
    - Great White Sharks
    - Saola
    - Saiga
    - Indri
    - Blue Whales (and other larger ceteceans)
    - Blobfish (and many other deep sea/high pressure creatures)
    But again, like @Aardwolf and others have said above, the species that prove difficult has, and will continue to, change over time. Many species that were once difficult to keep in captivity now have thriving populations, and some populations that used to be successful have now plummeted and are facing management struggles.
     
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  13. Sicarius

    Sicarius Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Great whites require a lot of space and work, but they are not impossible as proven by Monterey Bay Aquarium. But generally, the species definitely belongs here. This cannot be said about saola and blobfish. To my knowledge, only a single saola was ever captured and put in captivity. One sample is statistically not enough to form a conclusion. And a species of blobfish is currently on show in Aquamarine Fukushima, Japan.

    Species I can think of that have proven themselves very difficult or impossible on a long term:
    - Leatherback sea turtle (diet of jellyfish)
    - Narwhal (multiple reasons)
    - Goblin/frilled shark (deep sea pressure in tanks isn't working)
    - Streaked tenrecs (breeding is impossible because they require a group)
    - Thorny devil (diet of Australian ants)
    - Hoatzin (despite a single success, very hard to keep alive)
    - Goliath frog (kills itself by jumping to death because of stress)
    - Nudibranchs (most only eat certain sponges/corals)
    - Giant girdled lizard (easy to keep, impossible to breed)
    - Moles (multiple reasons, despite surviving in some places)
    - Colugo (circumstances, diet and stress)
    - Blue/mako shark (fast swimmers, bump into walls)
    - etc.
     
  14. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    There's plenty of these out there, some of which are regularly kept even.

    Goliath Frog - These have been tried by many reputable zoos, and they have all failed. A zoo in Japan continues to keep them, but is it a long-lived frog or continually replaced? Something environmentally makes them difficult, I've heard stories of them dying off within hours of being collected.

    Narwhal - several aquariums tried, but it never did work.

    Leatherback - technically these can be kept, but they require a harness with special rigging to prevent them constantly crashing into the sides of the tank and hurting themselves.

    Swifts - creatures tracked to spend months or even years flying on end without stopping just aren't suited to captivity's confines. Feeding them properly is also a difficulty due to their habits.

    Moorish Idol - an icon of the reef the species may be, but a very poor aquarium candidate. Studies have suggested for what handful of idols make it alive to the pet stores, some 95% will die within a month, largely from starvation and poor water quality. Public aquariums fare a bit better with the species, but it is still one that remains very delicate to keep long term. I hate seeing them for sale in aquarium stores, knowing most of them will be dead in a short space of time.
     
  15. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    Hi! Thanks for your response! I've gone through a few welfare books, and cetaceans seem to crop up a lot. I'd love to look into hoofstock, so I really appreciate you recommending saola and saiga!! I will look into all of these, so thank you so much for your time!! :D
     
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  16. Okapi22

    Okapi22 Member

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    These are so interesting, thank you for your comments!! I would never have considered swifts as even being in captivity! I willo look into all these, so thanks again!!! I'm excited to read about them :)
     
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  17. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    There's also species that don't do well when put in other weather conditions. Moose can only be kept in areas that are cool most of the year, for example. Muskox even more so. Pronghorn struggle outside of their native range.

    Some other ungulates still don't do well because they're very flighty and often injure themselves, and/or don't breed well.

    Most seals need more than zoos can provide. Antarctic species, like leopard seals, weddell seals, ross seals, etc have been limited to a few rescues. Some of the northern species, liked hooded seals and bearded seals, haven't been kept either, outside of a few research animals and the occasional Russian zoo.
     
  18. StellarChaser

    StellarChaser Well-Known Member

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    Shoebills: although in captivities they can live longer than in the wild, breeding is still extremely difficult. Only Al Wabra, Pairi Daiza and Tampa have had success so far. Most Shoebills in captivities were taken as chicks from nests, and heavily imprinted by humans. Artificial Insemination might be a solution, but we don't have large enough population in captivities for experiments.
    Pangolins: also very hard to breed, the pairs sent by Taipei Zoo to Ueno and Leipzig have never bred so far. They require specialized diets and easily get stressed, so keeping them is already a big challenge for the zoo.
    Giant Armadillo and Long-beaked Echidna: almost no success in breeding so far, and very hard to acquire them b/c they are nocturnal species that live in the high mountain cloud forests, even sighting them in the wild is difficult. The study on them is limited.
    Mountain Tapir: currently all the individuals in US zoos are related, and all the females in captivities are old. It is extremely hard to acquire them in the wild due to the same reason as Giant Armadillo and Long-beaked Echidna.
    Three-toed Sloth: unlike Two-toed, the Three-toed Sloths are very picky on diet, DWA is the only institution outside of the natural range that keeps them.
    Great Bustard: don't do well b/c they easily get stressed in captivity environment, the males are very flighty and often injure themselves or each other. They also don't breed well.
    Saiga Antelope: they are highly fragile to disease, their unique respiration system causes them difficult to live in low elevation environments. Males often die after mating, frequently fulfilling new males is big challenge for zoos outside of their natural range.
    Booby, Frigatebird: few rescued Brown Boobies may live in the captivities for years, they generally cannot adapt to the captivity environments.
     
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  19. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    The species does fine in captivity, they're just not sustainable.

    Worth noting that the long-beaked at Taronga is still kicking, somewhere in his 50's I think? Might be 60's. Definitely sucessfully keepable at that rate, just not available.
     
  20. RatioTile

    RatioTile Well-Known Member

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    Bearded seal is in some Japanese aquariums.
     
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