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Derek Smith

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Do zoos help biodiversity conservation?

Zoos are becoming more aware of the role they can play in preventing species extinction. The California Condor, the black-footed ferret, and the Przewalski’s horse have all been saved from extinction because of zoos. Zoos also aid conservation by inspiring people to learn more about the diversity of life. However for every species saved in a zoo, hundreds if not more will perish outside of zoos. Is the role of the zoo to showcase and educate the public about the organisms they keep in captivity or should they also focus on conservation outside zoo boundaries?

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    Jun 6 2012: Without a doubt, zoos can do both and they really do nowadays anyways. Zoos provide a plethora of benefits in both educating the public while also maintaining refuge populations of organisms and this can be sustained if the proper care is taken to ensure that there isn't inbreeding depression or any evolution that occurs due to being bred in captivity.It has been well documented that animals kept in zoos and bred over many generations can start to show changes in their phenotype and genotype due to a lack of selection that would happen in the wild. As was stated above, major animals like Pandas truly are being saved by the roles zoos play in breeding pandas and then releasing their young into the wild.
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      Jun 7 2012: I agree with this. Zoos are great at educating people and getting young people excited about nature and biodiversity. There are issues though. Many zoo's aren't up to the standards they should be to house animals, especially large exotics that need a lot of room. The other issue is that zoo's don't have sucessful breeding records. But despite these set backs, I think in the future, most animals - especially large, charasmatic animals - will only live in zoos.

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