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Why no platypus in zoos outside Australia?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by DavidBrown, 19 May 2011.

  1. Pygathrix

    Pygathrix Well-Known Member

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    The Australian government could try the Chinese panda lease approach, which would allow them to retain ownership over the animals. To avoid adverse publicity it would make more sense for any exported platypuses to have been captive-bred, and as mentioned above there aren't going to be any going spare for some time.

    I don't think they would be as big a drawer as pandas but I think there would be a lot of interest from the general public.
     
  2. OrangePerson

    OrangePerson Well-Known Member

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    I've only seen one, at Sydney Aquarium, but it displayed really well and I went round again just to see him. It's an animal most people have heard of and remember unlike lots of unusual animals so would have a reasonable chance of attracting a fair number of people but maybe not as appealing as pandas generally.
     
  3. Pygathrix

    Pygathrix Well-Known Member

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    I agree; everyone knows what a platypus is, so they have a head start over lots of other species. Thirty years ago hardly anyone knew what a meerkat was.

    Did you find the platypuses to be much smaller than you thought they would be?
     
  4. condor

    condor Well-Known Member

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    I doubt this has anything to do with the Australian authorities trying to 'protect' their tourist industry or zoos and I doubt money ('the panda method') would change anything to them. They are simply of the opinion that you need an exceptionally good reason (or a Princess:p; without that it is doubtful Copenhagen would have received Tas. devil) for them to allow export of their native animals. Their law is strongly aimed at conservation in the wild and in cases where captive breeding is deemed necessary for conservation they typically rely on local centers/zoos. They aren't alone in this either: New Zealand, several northern European countries and a seemingly increasing number of Latin American countries are doing the same.

    It isn't easy to present a good argument for platypus to the Australian authorities since it isn't threatened. Even if it was, it doesn't look like captivity would be a very effective way of conservation because of the limited breeding success. I'd still love to see this species spreading to zoos beyond Australia, but I think the chance of that happening is close to zero. At least unless there is a big rise in breeding success (giving surplus animals) at the few Australian zoos that keep it.
     
  5. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I have a funny story about that. I took an American friend to Melbourne Zoo to see some Australian animals and she was expecting platypus' to be the size of labradors.
     
  6. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    I presume you're right, Condor. But a law that is strongly aimed at conservation does not make a lot of sense if the involved animal specie is not good enough protected. I am not sure if this is the case with the platypus, but I might to remember reading in books that there are many dead platypuses each year because of accidents with cars, fishing or motor boats.
    (That is btw why I still can not understand the huge admistrational hurdles of the Australian Gouverment if a European oder American Zoo would like to import Common Wombats).
    In general, I agree that it is necessary in advance to breed native animals in Australian Zoos itself. But we should also keep in mind: Even if they do not reproduce, their conservation value in foreign zoos is or at least can be bigger as when they lay squeezed on the road, isn't it?
     
  7. zooman64

    zooman64 Well-Known Member

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    I think it's a mistake to say we should never expect to see Platypus in collections outside Australia. After all, thirty years ago who would've thought that there would ever come a time when Aye-aye would be cropping up fairly regularly in Western zoos? Never say never.
     
    Last edited: 16 May 2012
  8. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Edit: As long as they are not threatened in the wild of course.
     
  9. Monty

    Monty Well-Known Member

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    I have never even heard of a Platypus being killed by a car or boat. Thousands are killed though in illegal fishing nets such as gill nets, drum nets and yabbie traps. I have seen photos of nets with up to 7 Platypuses in them.

    I have seen many discussions here about how zoos should not accept or keep wild caught animals. As the Platypus rarely breeds in captivity almost all in captivity are wild caught.

    I am not against wild caught ones being exhibited though, as they are quiet common in many areas.
     
  10. condor

    condor Well-Known Member

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    Yes, there have been local declines and deaths from accidents do occur, but overall it remains a common and widespread species. Its overall survival is not threatened at all, which is why IUCN rate it as Least Concern, the lowest rating possible.

    Madagascar have far more relaxed laws on wildlife exports, even wild caught. Our current knowledge of captive breeding of aye-aye and its subsequent spread in western zoos wouldn't have been possible without exports of wild caught from Madagascar. Even in the last two decades, a fairly large number of new species from Madagascar have been imported by mainly European zoos. The same certainly can't be said for Australia (unless counting illegal exports, since new species of Australian reptiles appear on the private marked with some regularity). I remain entirely convinced that unless there is a big rise in breeding success (giving surplus animals) at the few Australian zoos that keep it, the chance of seeing platypus in zoos elsewhere is close to zero.
     
  11. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    I didn't remember what the most potential danger was (fishing), so that's why I mention other possible reasons for accidents. But the point stays the same: Thousands of killed platypuses in the wild with no conservation value.
     
  12. condor

    condor Well-Known Member

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    At least the platypus deaths are accidental. There are even better examples that are borderline tragicomical: The galah and sulphur-crested cockatoo are common, locally even abundant, and sometimes legally shot by Aust. farmers because of the damage they do to crops. Could you export a wild caught galah or sulphur-crested cockatoos instead of shooting it? No! There are large captive population of both species and fortunately they breed fairly well so wild caught aren't necessary, but it should give you an idea about the level of unwillingness by the Aust. authorities to allow exports of native animals. With that example in mind, does anyone think there is a realistic chance of export of wild caught platypus to a zoo outside Australia?
     
  13. Jabiru96

    Jabiru96 Well-Known Member

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    To be honest not even Australian zoos capture platypuses from the wild anymore so it would be a big struggle not only to get them out of the country but to also source them from a captive location, because I'm sure it would cause much controversy to capture them from the wild to be sent overseas.

    The only likely and even remotely possible option is to send rescued animals overseas (from injury, orphan young, etc) instead of wild catching or using the existing captive population.
     
  14. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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  15. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    I think someone hit the nail on the head when they mentioned a princess. In addition, see an earlier post about Winston Churchill wanting to see one, and it dying on the way to the UK.

    If Obama (or if the next US president was Newt Gingrich, who is a zoo-geek) asked Gillard to send a few to American zoos, I am sure that Australia would do it. I believe that a third or more of our exports go to China, so if Hu Jintao asked for a couple for Beijing Zoo, then surely a few will be on a jet to China. Oprah was treated like a modern day Jesus in Australia, so even she could probably request some on behalf of American zoos.

    Long and short, I believe that platypus could be sent to zoos overseas if the request comes from high enough. Then, it becomes an issue of politics rather than conservation.
     
  16. OrangePerson

    OrangePerson Well-Known Member

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    I can think of few things I'd really travel to see in a zoo, but platypus young - well that would be worth a trip. Do they breed at all in captivity anywhere?

    (Pygathrix - I don't particularly remember it being a lot smaller than I was expecting, it was a lot busier!)
     
  17. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    They have bred a few times at Healesville Sanctuary and Taronga Zoo. Healesville even had the first second generation captive-bred platypus birth a couple of years ago.

    I saw a video of the enclosure where the first breeding took place and it was little more than a concrete swimming pool with a small hutch attached.
     
  18. Jabiru96

    Jabiru96 Well-Known Member

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    Healesville Sanctuary recently bred platypus twins and have a rescued youngster, but Taronga havent bred them for several years. Then I think Sydney Aquarium have all females. Not sure anywhere else.
     
  19. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    And Melbourne Zoo keeps three males.
     
  20. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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