TED Conversations

Derek Smith

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed.

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?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 6 2012: It depends on how to zoo is run. I would say it only helps if the animals are abandoned or orphans or bred in captivity, but NOT from the wild. Also, their habitats should be as roomy and natural as possible. At a zoo I went to when I was younger there was a leopard in a living room sized room who was just climbing on logs in circles and pacing. Elephants need a lot of space.

    I'm sure that as long as the animals are treated and bred well zoos make people more aware, although most people who go to zoos go to as if the animal were an exhibit and don't really become aware of endangered species or really care.
    • thumb
      Jun 7 2012: I agree with this this last part you said about people not caring to become informed on the status of the species they see in the zoo. But this is partly the fault of the zoos themselves, in not making learning about the animals more attractive. But this has been getting better in recent years, as I have seen many zoos have fun ways in which people can get involved in learning.
      But even when the learning part is accomplished in zoos, the focus is on the animal itself which is good but could be taken to higher level. There is rarely an emphasis on the importance of the animal for its ecosystem or on conserving the animal.
      • thumb
        Jun 7 2012: Stephanie,
        I'm curious to know how you think zoos could make learning about the animals more attractive. I've only really been to one zoo, but I thought they did a great job making learning enjoyable. When I was a kid I went to a lot of day classes that had some sweet activities and and overnight events that all focused on learning about the zoo, the endangered animals and conservation.

        I do agree with you that more of a focus needs to be put on the animal's niche and importance in the ecosystem. I think the big picture is often left out and there is so much more that people need to know besides how pretty the animal is and where its species originates.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.