Research- Doglover846

The Truth About Zoos
and What They Do for Endangered Species

Through the years the world has been struggling to protect endangered species. That being said, there has been an upbringing of Zoos throughout the nation. However, Zoos have been one of the biggest controversial topics when talking about endangered species. And many people have different points of views on if zoos actually help or worsen the population of these species. An image is placed in minds where zoos hold animals captive and never let them be able to live their life to the fullest, but not all cases are like that. Seriously endangered species need to be watched at all times to ensure they won’t go extinct. They also need to have research done so that zoologists and other scientists have more knowledge to prevent them from going extinct. Yes, Zoos can help in that aspect but they also hold animals that aren’t endangered, so why would they hold them in captivity?

There is a subsiding slope of the 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. What that means is, a loss of biological diversity as a result of the global extinction of various species and the local reduction or loss of species in a particular habitat. 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. According to Conservation translocations: a review of common difficulties and promising directions, by Oded Berger-Tal, he states that, “The most common types of conservation translocations (hereafter, translocations) are reintroductions, where organisms are released into areas where the species previously existed but has been extirpated, and reinforcements, where organisms are released into areas with existing populations of conspecifics to enhance the viability of the extant population”. However, to be successful when pursuing this process there are an abundance of factors that become involved. This consists of “wildlife managers must possess extensive knowledge of the released species’ ecology and behavior, gain the support of local communities, secure continuous funding, coordinate activities among numerous stakeholders and monitor outcomes in an adaptive management framework” (Berger-Tal). 

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, decreasing 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. 

On the flip side, many studies show that conversational translocation can result in the species becoming overwhelmed and stressed. Having the animal being captured, transported and relocated into an area that has never been seen before or are not comfortable with can put a lot of stress on a wild animal. One of the biggest risks to the success of conservation translocation is losing local adaptation. A local adaptation is the process by which populations gain traits that increase their chances of surviving and reproducing in their immediate environment compared to those in other environments. This is accomplished by the spatial alignment of adaptive genetic variation with environmental variation. By removing the animal from their local adaptation can cause stress that could lead to a variety of major changes consisting of biological, physiological and behavioral changes. Examples of these characteristic changes would be the animal having a hard time hunting or just completely cut out eating and their relationships with the others in their population. Since animals depend on each other when it comes to hunting and protection, translocation can potentially hinder their routine of these sorts. 

On the other hand, conservation translocation is not the only way zoos try to help the endangered species. They have plenty of different strategies to prevent extinction of species who aren’t capable of surviving in their own habitats. A tactic that is popular is captive breeding. This is 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.” When the captive conservation programs perform these types of breeding they have to be cautious that they aren’t affecting the genetic diversity within the specific species. Now, with every generation random genetic drift causes the diversity to decrease. It is important to maintain the diversity because, with smaller populations the loss of diversity occurs more frequently rather than larger populations. 

 An example of a successful breeding in captivity would be the black-footed ferret. In 1979, the black-footed ferret was announced to be extinct, but before they were, there were over several thousands of them. They were found in the grasslands of North America hunting little prairie dogs as their main meal. However, their population began to suffer when a wave of disease, persecution and their habitat was destroyed. But, there was a discovery of a small population of ferrets in 1981. From there the captive breeding began, which led to their population spread throughout North America. Black-footed ferrets were near extinction and with captive breeding were able to increase their population. The obvious challenge of captive breeding is the small number of mating pairs, a limitation that can result in lower reproduction and growth rates, higher mortality rates, and hereditary abnormalities. Bigger wild populations don’t suffer the same limitations, so, to limit the side-effects of having so few surviving animals to work with, zoos isolate and nurture explicit pedigrees to sustain genetic diversity and improve survivorship. In the admittedly rare cases when heroic efforts to save a species result in a successful relocation, the beneficiary animals can return to the wild and live their life as they would if they had never left. 

However, while captive breeding can help different populations, not everyone follows that criteria. Their priority is to provide entertainment for those who visit the zoo with baby animals that they bred in captivity. Realistically, their intentions were never to help the species, instead to help the zoos get more profits and exposure. Doing this, the baby animals are never going to be able to see the wild and live out their life without being held in captivity. Even if they do get a chance, the zoos wouldn’t be able to prepare the animals enough for them to survive in the wild. In the long run, captive breeding can hinder the population’s success because over-time the animals become more adapted to our man-made environment. Not only could the chances of the offspring being let out in the wild be slim to none, there are also side effects that can be caused by captive breeding. On the other hand, when captive breeding, zoos have to be cautious because it 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. 

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. Scientists say that the best way to help endangered species from going extinct is to take matters into your own hands. Zoos and nature reserves can only do so much with giving you information and a better understanding of the different types of animals. 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 and help volunteer that their local wildlife refuge. This then can prevent the animal’s population from decreasing as well as helping the environment stay clean so that in the future the animals will have more space to roam and create new habitats. 

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. Even though, it seems like zoos strip not only endangered species, but all animals from their natural habitat and hold them in captivity with little to no knowledge of what the outside world looks like. Zoos are doing the most they can to help the endangered species. 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. Animals are going to die, it’s inevitable. But it’s the circle of life.  Us humans shouldn’t try to take that away from them, but  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

Staff, A. (n.d.). How zoos and aquariums protect endangered species. Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from 

Croteau, E., & Mott, C. L. (2011). Saving Endangered Species: A Case Study Using Global Amphibian Declines | Learn Science at Scitable.

Williamson, B. (2020, October 15). Keeping Wild Animals in Captivity Is Not Conservation. Here’s Why. | World Animal Protection. 

Human-Wildlife Conflicts. (n.d.).

Berger‐Tal, O., Blumstein, D. T., & Swaisgood, R. R. (2020). Conservation translocations: a review of common difficulties and promising directions. Animal Conservation23(2), 121–131.

Weeks, A. R., Sgro, C. M., Young, A. G., Frankham, R., Mitchell, N. J., Miller, K. A., Byrne, M., Coates, D. J., Eldridge, M. D. B., Sunnucks, P., Breed, M. F., James, E. A., & Hoffmann, A. A. (2011). Assessing the benefits and risks of translocations in changing environments: a genetic perspective. Evolutionary Applications4(6), 709–725.

‌Naomiwentz. (2018, November 1). Captive Breeding Programs: Beneficial or Harmful? Conservation Biology News.

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1 Response to Research- Doglover846

  1. davidbdale says:

    DogLover, your paper overall gives a positive impression of work that has been carefully researched and for which there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the value of captive breeding and translocation.

    Please have another reader confirm my strong opinion that you get in your own way when you introduce objections without making clear that you appreciate the complications of the job at hand BUT in no way need to make excuses for the limitations of the science or the practices of zoos doing their best to retrieve populations that have been failed in every other way by humanity and their natural environments.

    YES, there are privations and dangers in captive breeding BUT WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO IT if there were ample natural habitats where the animals normally live.

    YES, we deprive a few animals of their natural lives by housing them in zoos for humans to interact with BUT THE ONLY WAY TO GET THE PUBLIC INTERESTED ENOUGH TO WANT TO PRESERVE THEM is to give people a chance to interact with these animals, even if the conditions are unnatural.

    Do you see what I’m getting at? Your tone is TOO EVEN-HANDED for readers to figure out WHICH SIDE YOU’RE ON.

    There’s a stronger paper here than the one we can read in this version. I’ve given you an example of the changes needed in my feedback on your Causal argument, and you’ve adopted it. Apply that same CONVICTION OF YOUR OPINIONS throughout, and I’ll Regrade. Let me know when you’ve made substantial improvements.


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