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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: A lot of people have been mentioning the idea of zoos more different from each other in what animals they keep, and how it would be probably be a better idea from a conservation standpoint. I think it's worth looking at the idea from a consumer standpoint, too. I've been to four zoos in my time (Portland, Chicago, San Diego, and...some other zoo in California) and various other zoo-like animal parks, and it's kind of disappointing that a lot of animals in each zoo have been the same. It's the few excluive animals that always interest me the most. But if someone's never been to a zoo before and they don't get to see a lion or something, they're probably going to be disappointed, and I really can't see a zoo with only local animals or something like people have suggested thriving. Therefore I think it's best to establish a small list of "critical" animals that most zoo have to have, while devoting the rest of the zoo to unusual and/or local animals. Maybe even divide the zoo into a "big hitters" section, a local section, and a "rarely found in zoos!" section. That way you keep the zoo attractive to both newcomers and to people who have been to other zoos, maybe encourage people on vacation that it's worth going to the local zoo even though they have a bigger zoo back home. And from a "raise awareness" angle, you're drawing people in with animals everyone knows, but exposing them to animals they probably didn't know about while they're there And it helps encourage biodiversity as a consequence, of course. The difficult part is how to balance the number of crucial animals vs. the number of rare animals to maximize consumer interest.
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      Jun 8 2012: It is disappointing seeing the same animals no matter what zoo. It is hard to find a popular zoo without some sort of African savannah area with lions, elephants and giraffes. When I was in like 1st grade we went to the Portland zoo for a field trip and I loved it and have been there several times since. Now when I went to the zoo in D.C. saw very similar animals. Granted the big-hitters do bring in money, and a zoo is a business.
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        Jun 8 2012: Kinda intresting to think as to why those few animals get so much popularity and attention. There's lots of animals I think are way cooler than Lions or Pandas or God forbid Koala's(they sleep like 18 hours a day!). I suppose in the end it mostly comes down to good PR, so to speak. That and people really seem to like big, powerful animals like lions, elephants, crocadiles, and orcas for some reason(ties in with the whole bigger is beter steriotype we have in modern days I suppose) and there are only so many of those still left arround.

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