Dear EarthTalk: Do zoos have serious programs to save endangered species, besides putting a few captives on display for everyone to see?
-- Kelly Traw, Seattle, WA
Most zoos are not only great places to get up close to wildlife, but many are also doing their part to bolster dwindling populations of animals still living free in the wild. To wit, dozens of zoos across North America participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program, which aims to manage the breeding of specific endangered species in order to help maintain healthy and self-sustaining populations that are both genetically diverse and demographically stable.
The end goal of many SSPs is the reintroduction of captive-raised endangered species into their native wild habitats. According to the AZA, SSPs and related programs have helped bring black-footed ferrets, California condors, red wolves and several other endangered species back from the brink of extinction over the last three decades. Zoos also use SSPs as research tools to better understand wildlife biology and population dynamics, and to raise awareness and funds to support field projects and habitat protection for specific species. AZA now administers some 113 different SSPs covering 181 individual species.
To be selected as the focus of an SSP, a species must be endangered or threatened in the wild. Also, many SSP species are “flagship species,” meaning that they are well-known to people and engender strong feelings for their preservation and the protection of their habitat. The AZA approves new SSP programs if various internal advisory committees deem the species in question to be needy of the help and if sufficient numbers of researchers at various zoos or aquariums can dedicate time and resources to the cause.
AZA’s Maryland-based Conservation and Science Department administers the worldwide SSP program, generating master plans for specific species and coordinating research, transfer and reintroductions. Part of this process involves designing a “family tree” of particular managed populations in order to achieve maximum genetic diversity and demographic stability. AZA also makes breeding and other management recommendations with consideration given to the logistics and feasibility of transfers between institutions as well as maintenance of natural social groupings. In some cases, master plans may recommend not to breed specific animals, so as to avoid having captive populations outgrow available holding spaces.
While success stories abound, most wildlife biologists consider SSP programs to be works in progress. AZA zoos have been instrumental, for instance, in establishing a stable population of bongos, a threatened forest antelope native to Africa, through captive breeding programs under the SSP program. Many of these captive-bred bongos have subsequently been released into the wild and have helped bolster dwindling population numbers accordingly.
Of course, for every success story there are dozens of other examples where results have been less satisfying. SSP programs for lowland gorillas, Andean condors, giant pandas and snow leopards, among others, have not had such clear success, but remain part of the larger conservation picture for the species in question and the regions they inhabit.
CONTACTS: AZA’s Conservation & Science Program, www.aza.org/Conscience.
EarthTalk is produced by E/The Environmental Magazine. SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO:EarthTalk, P.O.Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; email@example.com. Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php. EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalkbook.
The Pros and Cons of Zoos
- Length: 597 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
There are over 1,500 zoos in the world and over 200 of them are in Great Britain alone. This shows how popular zoos are all over the globe. With the wide range of species and animal presentations, it’s no wonder why 600,000 customers stream through zoo doors every year. However, zoos are always looking for ways to make money. Currently, Edinburgh Zoo, is trying to sell off some land so they can keep the zoo functioning. This shows they’re willing to sell off land that is meant for these animals, just to keep this unnatural habitat viable.
If an animal was under threat in their natural habitat it would be inhumane not to rescue them, not the other way around. We are merely protecting them from poachers and extinction. Breeding programmes are the main function of zoos, by reproducing species for our future generations, we are conserving animals. Some may say though that we should be leaving these animals alone to live their lives, no matter if it’s a short or long one. It’s a breach of their natural rights to use them for our own purposes, and the human race has done enough for these poor animals. I personally think that the zoos breeding programmes are a bad idea they have a very low success rate and by the end of the programme the animal hasn’t got the characteristics of what the animal born in wild would have, so it’s just a waste of time.
Zoos where animals are fed well and looked after properly with nice surroundings should be encouraged throughout the world and in most zoos this is the standard they go by. Maybe if one zoo is suffering from abusive problems it does not mean that all zoos should be shut down. Even if these are the guidelines zoos follow animals are still stressed and suffering. They show this by displaying self-destructive behaviour. What is educational about watching an animal in its unnatural habitat, behaving in a way that it wouldn’t normally behave? In my opinion children would be better educated reading a book or watching a documentary of an animal behaving in a natural way, and if that means animals dying out then at least they died with their dignity intact.
If families and children come along to zoos as often as the figures say then ideas will be put in their heads that it’s okay for animals to be trapped in small cages and that they are only there for our entertainment and not our educational needs.
How to Cite this Page
| The Pros and Cons of Keeping Tigers In Captivity Essay - “The tiger is the biggest of the big cats, reaching an extraordinary 4 meters in length and 350 kilograms in weight-as heavy as 100 domestic cats!” (“Tiger Facts” 1). That is one big cat. You might think that such a large predator would thrive, but tigers are an endangered species, and have been for years. “Intelligent and agile, big cats are ideally designed to hunt, with sharp teeth and claws, strong jaws, powerful bodies, excellent eyesight, acute hearing and a good sense of smell” (“Tiger Facts” 1).... [tags: Animal Research ]|
:: 7 Works Cited
| The Pros and Cons of Reptiles as Pets Essay - How many people can say that they have a pet that has been around, in some form or other, for 300 million years. Reptiles are fascinating animals that have been around since the Carboniferous Period, 300 million years ago. Many different species of reptiles have come and gone over the course of time and there are five main groups. Turtles and tortoises are distinguished by the presence of their carapace, or shells, which is also their main defense against predators. Lizards are the most diverse and varied among the reptiles with many different types from chameleons, to iguanas, to geckos, to monitor lizards which includes the largest of all lizards; the Komodo dragon.... [tags: Pro Con Essays]|
:: 4 Works Cited
| Essay about The Pros and Cons of Hosting the Olympics - With over two hundred countries participating, the Olympic Games is easily considered as one of the largest multisport event known to history. The Olympics are held at a different country, and even more rarely at the same city. For a country to be chosen to host the Olympics, the country’s National Olympic Committee (the country’s representatives for the Olympics) nominates a city (from the country they represent) that they think has potential in hosting the Olympics nine years prior to when they wish to host the Olympics.... [tags: olympic games, pros and cons]|
:: 15 Works Cited
| Legalizing Marijuana: Pros and Cons Essay - The war on drugs is a movement of prohibition and military aid being undertaken by the United States government intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade. In the year 2010 the U.S. government spent $15 billion on the war on drugs, at a rate of $500 per second. State and local governments spent another $25 billion as well. In 2007, $42 billion was spent on the marijuana prohibition. That is more money than the war on drugs spent on all types of drugs three years before when $40 billion was spent all together.... [tags: Drugs, Pros and Cons]|
:: 2 Works Cited
| Pros and Cons of Taking a Year Off Before College Essay - It’s your senior year of high school. It is time for you to decide what you want to do after you graduate. You have a few possible things that you could do. You could start applying for colleges, get accepted to one, and then go to college right out of high school; or you could do the same thing, but take a year off. This brings up the argument of whether or not a student should take off a gap year before they begin college. There are both, pros and cons to taking a gap year prior to starting college.... [tags: Pros and Cons of Gap Year]|
:: 3 Works Cited
| Zoos and Animal Rights Essay - Among many other fun and exciting attraction to visit around our community, a visit to the zoo has always been a memorable experience. This cost effective priceless lifetime experience is being undermined by a group of activists all around the country. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), world largest animal rights organization, argue that zoos deprived animals from satisfying their most basic needs. They urge not to patronized zoos and claims that the money spent on ticket purchases pays for animals to be imprisoned and traded, not rescued and rehabilitated.... [tags: animals, modern zoos]|
:: 3 Works Cited
|Pros and Cons of Hydro Energy Essay - Pros of hydro energy: •Hydroelectricity is the most widely used form of renewable energy as compared to the other energy resources and it is convenient making it the most popular option. Cons of hydro energy •No matter how strong the reservoir may seem there is still a risk of it giving way and if it does it will cause great damage to the livelihood. Pros of hydro energy •Hydroelectricity is the most widely used form of renewable energy as compared to the other energy resources and it is convenient making it the most popular option.... [tags: renewable, environment, pollution]||662 words|
|Essay about Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty - Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty Due to the rapid increase in crime the past ten years and prison overcrowding, more attention has been drawn to the opinion that something has to be done to the United States Criminal System. We need to reevaluate the way we treat people we are convicted of unspeakable acts of merciless slaughter or even rape. The United States Justice System must be made solid again. Most people have an opinion on this heated subject. Some say "we need it" others say "the person pulling the switch would be no better than the person in the chair." We need to look at other options beside prison.... [tags: Capital Punishment Crime Law Essays]||430 words|
| Essay on Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy - Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy Nuclear power was the world’s fastest growing form of energy in the 1990’s. However, presently it is the second slowest growing worldwide. Considering that nuclear power accounts for eleven percent of the world’s energy supply, one must ask what happened [Nuclear Power]. Why is it that the growth of nuclear power has almost completely stalled. The simple answer is that after meltdowns such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, many people are afraid of nuclear power plants, which causes great opposition to the expansion of the industry.... [tags: Energy Environmental Science]|
:: 3 Works Cited
|Pros and Cons of Abortion Essay - Pros and Cons of Abortion Should a list of pros and cons of abortion really be necessary for Christians...or human beings for that matter. I mean, have we really reached a point where we cannot tell that abortion is murderous no matter how you color it or try to paint it as compassionate. Apparently so. Thirty plus years after the infamous Supreme Court decision in Roe versus Wade and thirty one years after my own timely birth, I sit in awe at the ignorance of a great portion of society...their lack of understanding, their selfishness, and their brazen support of such a horrendous practice as abortion.... [tags: Religion Christianity Abortion Ethics Essays]||3511 words|
Fortunately, most modern zoos main focus is in fact to educate the public. Many schools go to the zoos on trips and are shown presentations to learn about the animals. I believe that zoos need to be showing us that they’re not for entertainment but more for our educational purposes.
For some animals that are nearing extinction it is necessary for tests to be done to figure out new medicines and how to treat them. It is imperative that we get a chance to observe these animals and come up with new and improved treatments so that they can survive in their own habitats, bearing in mind that their habitats are constantly changing. However, what is the point in testing animals and finding new medicines when it is only on the rare occasion that animals do actually get sent back to the wild? Animals never needed man’s helped before, and we’ve interfered for the worst. I think that it’s wrong that we are interfering with animals because we are interested in what we would find.
To conclude, I believe, after the points I have made and the arguments that I have stated, that it is wrong for animals to be kept in zoos and to be deprived of their natural habitats and rights.