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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 8 2012: Many zoos are doing both. The Australia Zoo is currently running a conservation program for many species of the Oceania. These are species that have either gone extinct or critically endangered in past years and the zoo is helping to restore populations. I think most zoos should have programs similar to this. A percentage of their profit should be used for conservation of biodiversity. Also, I believe that nature conservancy organizations should join with zoos to increase the conservation methods that much more.
    • Jun 8 2012: I think that you are on to something with the joint effort between zoos and conservation organization. Zoos have the ability to bring in people both educating and entertaining them on the matter of conservation, while the conservation organization can raise funds and deal with the policy making. Ultimately for conservation efforts to truly be successful, everyone will need to work together. So the sooner key organizations come together, the faster progress will occur.
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        Jun 8 2012: I agree, and I think that the entertainment aspect is important. Bringing people closer to environmental issues and showing them how current realities are affecting a species they have met and felt a connection with makes them emotionally invested, which can be very powerful and has the potential to influence more people. The only danger is that it makes animals which should live and thrive in the wild seem tame and that may cause some people to buy exotic pets.
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      Jun 8 2012: I agree that this is probably the best way zoos can contribute most meaningfully. Partnering with or creating a conservation organization as a zoo is not only a great way to build a brand image but also to bolster conservation efforts. It all falls in line with the mission of a zoo, and in that way is an appropriate environmentally excellent way to do business.

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