Moos’ Blog

Bio­di­ver­sity Counts!
Obser­va­tions and opin­ions con­cern­ing zoos, evo­lu­tion, nature con­ser­va­tion and the way we treat/​support the ecosys­tems which are sup­posed to serve us.


Zoos need new approach for their con­ser­va­tion efforts

pub­lished 04 Jan­u­ary 2015 | mod­i­fied 18 Decem­ber 2016

amur tiger tigerdayAs Jeremy Hance has extremely well pointed out in his arti­cle on Mongabay of May 2014, the last few decades zoos have been pay­ing more and more atten­tion to nature con­ser­va­tion efforts. So, not just pre­ven­tion of extinc­tion by keep­ing species alive in cap­tiv­ity, but pre­ven­tion of extinc­tion in the wild. Improve­ments have been made in ‘Zoo think­ing’ about con­ser­va­tion efforts and the con­tri­bu­tion zoos can make to pre­vent the ongo­ing man-​made 6th global mass species extinc­tion. Nev­er­the­less, zoos are not doing enough.

Two things in Hance’s arti­cle stood out, in my opin­ion. Firstly, the unequal dis­tri­b­u­tion of the con­tri­bu­tion to con­ser­va­tion by well-​respected zoos and that only a gen­eral 2% of the rev­enues of zoos in the US are being used for their con­ser­va­tion efforts. I don’t know about the sit­u­a­tion in Europe, but I expect this to be sim­i­lar. Sec­ondly, the sur­vey that the World Asso­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquar­i­ums (WAZA) con­ducted amongst zoo vis­i­tors to mea­sure the bio­di­ver­sity under­stand­ing and knowl­edge of actions to help pro­tect bio­di­ver­sity. The results indi­cate that zoos (and aquar­i­ums) can con­tribute to increas­ing the num­ber of peo­ple who under­stand bio­di­ver­sity and know actions they can take to help pro­tect bio­di­ver­sity. But let’s not be too pos­i­tive about these results because it appears that only an 8% increase of under­stand­ing could be iden­ti­fied amongst peo­ple after their zoo visit.

There’s work to be done here! Although the con­ser­va­tion efforts of zoos (and aquar­i­ums) are to be applauded, I fully agree with the notions in Hance’s arti­cle that zoos are not inno­v­a­tive enough, and have a very tra­di­tional way of think­ing, still. They should find a way to get the story across.

An exam­ple of inno­v­a­tive edu­ca­tion, sourc­ing social media, that WAZA has launched can be watched here:

The com­pre­hen­sive and alarm­ing arti­cle of Hance about what zoos are doing, and what should improve — develop a new model for zoo con­ser­va­tion — to increase the impact they have on con­ser­va­tion world­wide, could be a source of inspi­ra­tion for zoo pro­fes­sion­als. It is inspir­ing me, a com­mon zoo enthusiast.

The excel­lent arti­cle of Jeremy Hance can be read here.

(Sources: Mongabay, 19.05.2014; WAZA)

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Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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