AboutZoos, Since 2008


The top ten mam­mals sur­viv­ing because of Zoos

pub­lished 19 August 2013 | mod­i­fied 28 June 2014

A big cat, a fig-​loving bat and a monog­a­mous mon­key are just some of the species avoid­ing extinc­tion thanks to the help of zoos, accord­ing to a recently pub­lished report by the British and Irish Asso­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquar­i­ums (BIAZA).

Sumatran tigress London ZooBIAZA, which pro­motes the val­ues of good zoos and aquar­i­ums, has com­piled a list of the top ten mam­mals most reliant on zoos in the UK and Ire­land. The Amur leop­ard, the Livingstone’s fruit bat and the San Mar­tin titi mon­key have all made it on to the list, which high­lights some of the best exam­ples of how zoos are safe­guard­ing the future of our planet’s wildlife and their habitats.

With­out the indis­pens­able con­ser­va­tion and breed­ing work of many of our mem­ber zoos and aquar­i­ums, many threat­ened species such as these may be lost to extinc­tion forever
Dr Andrew Mar­shall, BIAZA’s Field Pro­grammes Committee »

Dr Mar­shall, who co-​ordinated the com­pi­la­tion of the list with input from con­ser­va­tion experts based at BIAZA zoos, said: “Last year, BIAZA pub­lished a report on the top ten species most reliant on zoos which high­lighted the work being done by zoos across all tax­o­nomic groups to help safe­guard their future. This year, we have focused on ten pre­vail­ing exam­ples of mam­mals that zoos are work­ing to save from extinction.

“It was a really tough choice this year as there were so many likely con­tenders, but we have some incred­i­ble species with amaz­ing con­ser­va­tion sto­ries. The Amur leop­ard was an obvi­ous choice — with only around 50 wild leop­ards left their future depends on fund­ing and direct field involve­ment of zoos, who are cur­rently plan­ning what will be the first big cat rein­tro­duc­tion using cats bred in zoos.

“The Grevy’s zebra is another species which was given a help­ing hand by the inter­na­tional zoo com­mu­nity recently. When an out­break of anthrax threat­ened to wipe out many of the few remain­ing pop­u­la­tions, a con­sor­tium of zoos acted rapidly to help fund and admin­is­ter large-​scale vac­ci­na­tions of ani­mals across north­ern Kenya, sav­ing this species from the brink of extinction.

“The San Mar­tin titi mon­key also pro­vides a bril­liant exam­ple of zoos pulling together to pro­tect species which are not actu­ally held in cap­tiv­ity. Through research and pro­vi­sion of fund­ing in Peru, a zoo-​initiated project has been able to influ­ence local Gov­ern­ment pol­icy and the des­ig­na­tion of pro­tected areas of this rare monkey’s habitat.”

Strict cri­te­ria was used to select the top ten. All the mam­mals pro­posed had to be asso­ci­ated with cur­rent field ini­tia­tives by zoos (‘in-​situ con­ser­va­tion’) and listed as Endan­gered, Crit­i­cally Endan­gered or Extinct in the Wild on the Inter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threat­ened Species. Par­tic­u­lar impor­tance was given to ini­tia­tives which included a man­age­ment role in the species’ con­ser­va­tion, rather than just pro­vid­ing funds and pri­or­ity was also given to species con­ser­va­tion projects that include habi­tat pro­tec­tion, edu­ca­tion and/​or liveli­hood development.

The top ten list of mam­mals most reliant on zoos demon­strates the impor­tance of zoos not only for con­ser­va­tion breed­ing of safety-​net pop­u­la­tions , but also for their con­tri­bu­tion to fund­ing and man­age­ment of con­ser­va­tion projects in the field, includ­ing research, edu­ca­tion and sup­port for local com­mu­ni­ties, as well as pro­tec­tion of cru­cial wildlife habitats.

Dr Mar­shall added: “Mod­ern zoos are evolv­ing and improv­ing rapidly and increas­ingly are act­ing as the dri­ving forces behind major con­ser­va­tion, research and edu­ca­tion ini­tia­tives. We want our vis­i­tors to know that in vis­it­ing their zoo they are not sim­ply enjoy­ing a great day out, but are con­tribut­ing to an ever-​increasing con­ser­va­tion effort.”

BIAZA’s top ten mam­mals most reliant on zoos are:

Amur leop­ard
Oné of the most endan­gered large cats in the world with less than 50 indi­vid­u­als remain­ing in the wild.
Blue-​eyed black lemur
This Crit­i­cally Endan­gered mam­mal is restricted to a very small area of around 2,700km² in north­west Mada­gas­car and only a small total pop­u­la­tion remains.
Scimitar-​horned oryx
The Scimitar-​horned oryx is Extinct in the Wild, so com­pletely depen­dent on cap­tive breed­ing for survival.
Suma­tran tiger
There are only 300400 Suma­tran tigers remain­ing in the wild.
San Mar­tin titi mon­key
This Crit­i­cally Endan­gered pri­mate is not kept in zoos, but BIAZA zoos are impor­tant part­ners in the only con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tive work­ing to pro­tect this species.
Grevy’s zebra
This endan­gered equid has expe­ri­enced one of the largest reduc­tions of range and num­bers of any African mammal.
Livingstone’s fruit bat
One of the largest bat species in the world with less than 1,100 indi­vid­u­als remain­ing in the wild.
Pied tamarin
The most Endan­gered Ama­zon­ian pri­mate found in a very small region of the Brazil­ian rainforest.
White-​naped mangabey
Listed as one of the 25 Most Endan­gered Pri­mates in the World. Only 15% of their orig­i­nal habi­tat remains.
West­ern low­land gorilla
The West­ern low­land gorilla is under threat of extinc­tion from spe­cial­ist hunt­ing and habi­tat loss.

Next year’s report will focus on the top ten rep­tiles and amphib­ians most reliant on zoos

(Source: BIAZA press release, 14.08.2013)

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Tiger range countries map

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

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