Do Zoos Actually Increase the Population of Endangered Species?
In this world today, there is a subsiding slope of endangered animal population, with a result of some species going completely extinct, meaning that species will never exist again. In fact, The World Wildlife Fund estimates that somewhere between 200 and 2000 species go extinct every year. We as a community have tried multiple ways to prevent species from going nonexistent. Examples being, protecting the wildlife habitat, nature reserves, and lastly research and knowledge. By providing “safe habitats, medical care, and a nurturing environment for their animals,” zoos and nature reserves are the best defense we have against a continuing loss of species, according to staff of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Zoos provide a safe place to salvage endangered animals temporarily, but the more permanent solution is to translocate the species to environments that can sustain them permanently. Zoos, aquariums and nature reserves help increase the population of different species and protect endangered animals through different research, funding, translocations, conservation areas and breeding.
As we know the wildlife population has been substantially decreasing day after day. The declining number of species is putting the world into a biodiversity crisis. In spite of that, conservation translocations could help reverse this situation by rehabilitating small populations or allowing new ones to start. Conservation translocation intentionally moves and releases plants, animals, or fungi into the wild in order to save them from extinction. One of the most well known attempts of conservation translocation is Richard Henry’s attempt to save flightless birds back in 1895. He did this by relocating these birds from New Zealand’s mainland to a predator-free Resolution Island in the Fiordland area. Even though his attempt failed, his effort to save the birds led to countless numbers of conservation translocation throughout the world. However, these practices weren’t popular until the 1970’s and 80’s. That is when the amount of conservation translocations started to increase and gained the reintroduction of eminent species. Many zoological organizations have evolved conservation management. This causes them to strengthen and broaden their activities, increasing the result of wildlife population restrictions. With that being said, “species are becoming ‘conservation reliant’ each requiring a variety of conservation approaches for their continued survival,” according to Tania Gilbert and Pritpal Soorae in The Role of Zoos and Aquariums in Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations.
Zoos have different strategies to prevent extinction of species who aren’t capable of surviving in their own habitats. A strategy that is popular is captive breeding, where animals are being bred outside of their natural habitat in restricted areas such as farms, zoos, and aquariums. The goal of captive breeding is to grow the population enough to the point where it can be controlled and become stable or where the species is healthy. With this, in Saving Endangered Species: A Case Study Using Global Amphibian Declines Emily Croteau makes a claim: “These objectives ensure that populations will exhibit a healthy age structure, resistance to disease, consistent reproduction, and preservation of the gene pool to minimize and/or avoid problems associated with inbreeding.” An example of a successful breeding in captivity would be the black-footed ferret and the California condor. They were species that were near extinction and with captive breeding were able to increase their population. On the other hand, captive breeding can lead to inbreeding. Causes of inbreeding are lower reproduction and growth rates, higher mortality rates and frequency of hereditary abnormalities. To contradict that from happening, zoos try to prevent this by relying on explicit pedigrees to sustain genetic diversity long term. With captive breeding most of the animals aren’t able to return back to the natural environment, however it isn’t impossible. In some cases animals are strong enough to return back into the wild and live their life as they would if they had never left.
Not only does captive breeding help grow the species population, there are a lot of benefits that come with it. For instance, it can help educate the people about the different animals and their habitats which can create funds for research and shelters. Education and public awareness is important to helping endangered animals because we can learn how to rescue them and raise money towards funds so more research can be done. Zoos and aquariums are major benefits when it comes to raising public awareness by allowing younger individuals to learn and become interested and appreciate wildlife. Most zoos and aquariums contain information about each species, stating where their habitats are, what they eat, how long they live for and different facts about them. Having this information on display gives the people knowledge on their local environments or environments around the world. This can help citizens to acknowledge the fact that they need to protect and clean the environment around them so the animals can live in safer areas. This then can prevent the animal’s population from decreasing.
In the end, it is going to be a hard and long process for endangered animals to reach a point where their populations will be strong enough to repopulate on their own. There will also be challenges to overcome as well, examples being, “habitat loss, over-exploitation, the impact of invasive species and climate change”. However, zoos, aquariums and nature reserves have an enormous role in helping this come true through protected areas, translocations, captive breeding and public awareness. Everyday conservationists are adapting to new changes and challenges, but they can’t do it by themselves. They need exposure and help from the human population. And zoos and aquariums are the best way to get public awareness. Regardless of the incline of endangered species, the slope would be tremendously steeper without the help of zoos and nature reserves. Ultimately, By various forms of study, funding, translocation, conservation areas, and breeding, zoos, aquariums, and nature reserves contribute to the growth of various species and the protection of creatures in risk of extinction.
Gilbert, T., & Soorae, P. S. (n.d.). Editorial: The role of zoos and aquariums in … – wiley online library. Retrieved March 7, 2023, from https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/izy.12164
Staff, A. (n.d.). How zoos and aquariums protect endangered species. Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://www.aza.org/connect-stories/stories/how-do-zoos-help-animals?locale=en
Croteau, E., & Mott, C. L. (2011). Saving Endangered Species: A Case Study Using Global Amphibian Declines | Learn Science at Scitable. Nature.com. https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/saving-endangered-species-a-case-study-using-19445898/
I will leave “Startup Advice” as a Reply to this post, DogLover.
More than one student in my spring classes has started off the Portfolio assignments by writing a plausible Causal Argument but calling it a Definition Argument. You’re one of them, DogLover.
You should consider copying and pasting the material from your “Definition” post HERE, into your Causal post. After that, you can radically revise your first short paper to make it Definitional/Categorical.
FIRST, let’s look at what makes what you’ve already written CAUSAL:
In Paragraph 1 you claim:
—Efforts to prevent extinction HAVE NOT SUCCEEDED.
—Zoos and nature reserves might RESULT in success.
—AZA claims that safe habitats PRESERVE SPECIES.
Those are all Causal Claims.
What you HAVEN’T done in that paragraph is identify WHAT IS EXTINCTION? (I know it sounds obvious, but it’s not. Lots of species go extinct that we’ve never identified. Lots of species go extinct that we don’t care about (maybe we should, but we don’t). Some species might still exist somewhere, but not where we’re looking. What’s the difference between endangered, threatened, and extinct? You might also want to identify the Characteristics of Zoos and Nature Reserves that qualify them as safe habitats (That would be categorical!).
In Paragraph 2 you claim:
—Rehabilitation of small populations might RESULT in extinction reversals.
—Lois of natural habitat has RESULTED in the need to translocate species.
—Henry moved a species to a new Island, but the effort DID NOT SUCCEED. A Causal argument could explain the CAUSE of the failure.
—Something you don’t identify CAUSED a surge of translocation efforts.
—The increased dependence on conservation management is CAUSING species to become conservation reliant.
Those are all Causal Claims.
What you HAVEN’T done in that paragraph is identify the Characteristics of NEW translocation techniques (since, say 1970) that have replaced Henry’s failed technique (That would be categorical!).
In Paragraph 3 you make some Definition/Categorical claims:
—You describe some of the characteristics of captive breeding.
—You identify several goals of captive breeding.
—You offer an example of successful captive breeding.
Those are all Claims for your Def/Cat argument.
The rest of your paragraph is Causal
—Captive breeding can lead to inbreeding.
—Causes of inbreeding are lower reproduction and growth rates, higher mortality rates and frequency of hereditary abnormalities.
—Zoos try to prevent this by relying on explicit pedigrees to sustain genetic diversity long term.
—With captive breeding most of the animals aren’t able to return back to the natural environment
—In some cases animals are strong enough to return back into the wild and live their life as they would if they had never left.
I’m off to the dentist now, DogLover. I’ll be back at my desk this afternoon, but I’d like to have your early reply on what I’ve shared with you so far before I return to your feedback. (I have about 20 requests for feedback currently pending from other students.)
Thank you for the advice, I will transfer my Definition post to hear and revise the both of them so that the Definition post is more of a Definition argument rather than a Causal argument. Your advice is very helpful and I will keep you updated if I have any more questions. Thanks again!
I actually do have a question, since I did make my Definition Argument a Causal Argument, what can I change to make the change from Causal to Definition? Thanks!
You probably asked that question without carefully reading the feedback on the first 3 paragraphs, DogLover. In each case, I’ve identified either the claims you made that are Definitional/Categorical, OR I’ve suggested in the “What you HAVEN’T done” sections claims you could make in a successful Def/Cat Argument. Do you see that?
Let’s finish up with the paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of claims.
In Paragraph 4 you claim:
—Captive breeding GROWS THE POPULATION and provides other benefits (X causes A B and C).
—Public awareness RESULTS in fundraising success, recruitment of new talent, public support for the environment (X causes A B and C).
—All the benefits of captive breeding PREVENT animal extinction (A B and C cause X).
Those are all Causal Claims.
What you HAVEN’T done in that paragraph is identify WHAT DOES CAPTIVE BREEDING look like? Do the zoos publicize the programs? Do they house the animals on location? Do they provide the most natural environment they can and let nature take its course? Or do they artificially inseminate? Do they choose breeding partners? Are the results of their efforts natural, or have they introduced accidental or deliberate consequences on the species?
In Paragraph 5 you just summarize:
—Not much new going on here.
—There’s a lot you can do with the words you save by eliminating your summary paragraph, DogLover. I’d really like to know more about the specifics and mechanics of translocation and captive breeding. If they’re our best hope for saving species, I’m fascinated to know who gives permission to have a species introduced into their country, territory, province? Everybody knows the perils of inviting new animals into an ecosystem (kudzu, locust borer beetles, lionfish, asian carp . . . .). You’ve chosen a fascinating topic. Please share the magnificence of what you find.
It’s your move, DogLover. I’m taking this post out of Feedback Please until you revise and request more feedback.
DogLover deserves a preliminary grade for this.
This is REALLY CONFUSING:
Can you clarify?
In the following, you give EQUAL WEIGHT to the objections and to your “yes, but” responses. You’re not required to be THAT fair. You can emphasize your positive reaction while still being fair and faithful to the counterargument. Observe:
That may be the best advice I’ve ever given any writer, DogLover. I hope it’s clear that you can respect the facts while not surrendering to negative spin.