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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: I feel zoos try to showcase the conservation and extinction rates outside of their enclosures but have a hard time doing so. People go to the zoo to see the lions and tigers and bears, and while they are there they concentrate on the exotic and endangered species without thinking about the possibility of endangered species around them in their everyday environment. If zoos some how incorporated local animals that are endangered with either an exhibit or simply listing the species in the Zoo map's I feel that it would draw more awareness to those who visit.
    • Jun 7 2012: Kimberly, I think you make a great point. While zoos do great work drawing attention to organisms who are endangered and providing some educational material for visitors, most of the focus goes to the exotic and rare species. Bringing the focus local organisms would be great for encouraging identification with visitor's local habitats. From personal experience if someone identifies with a particular place, they are more likely to have passion to fight for it. Additionally, with the use of local animals you would hope that the zoos would try and recreate a semi-realistic habitat within the zoo that is like the animals' natural habitat. This would allow for the conservation of some local plant species as well. By recreating synthetic habitats that represent once common natural habitats, zoos could then also educate visitors on what the area looked like before humans took over.
    • Jun 7 2012: I also really like this idea. Perhaps if people become more attached to the animals that are more likely to reside locally, it will make the conservation efforts much more personal. I think guilt can be a great motivating force. I wish it didn't have to be, but my opinion stands.

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