TED Conversations

Derek Smith


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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 8 2012: I wonder what zoo's are started with the mindset of zoology first and turning a profit second? Some zoos seem more notable for exotic entertainment like being able to view rare tigers or being splashed by orca whales. Other zoos seem more about educating the public about our close neighborhood creatures we may not otherwise ever see or experience living an urban 9am to 5pm lifestyle. I believe many animal right groups are against either of these mindsets, but the small price a few animals pay by having smaller living quarters or having to entertain a cheering crowd is worth exposing the public to the wonderful animals living on this planet.

    While it would be great if all zoos could breed and protect endangered species found throughout this planet, at least they provide a cultural ecosystem service by showing what humans have to lose by continuing to live the way are today.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.