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Derek Smith

TEDCRED 50+

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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 8 2012: I think one major problem with zoos today is that there is little reason to come back. Most if not all the exhibits are permanent, and animals are generally on daily routines that do not vary much. Unless you have a child who is obsessed with animals, the chances are you have not been to a zoo in a long time. I understand that the infrastructure necessary to house animals and care for them is expensive, but zoos need to find a way to be more dynamic in their exhibits to encourage return trips. Either this or make the community feel more involved with the successes of the zoo by hosting more events that celebrate things like successful in-house breeding or the arrival of a new animal. Zoos could also take an additional step by throwing events to celebrate conservation successes outside of the zoo or even the country, and try to establish themselves as a social gathering places for people who want to promote these causes.

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