Zoos and Conservation

Sorry for the long wait guys. I havent been able to access my blog site for a while but now thats all sorted here is the post I promised a couple of months ago.

Zoos are important for the conservation of biodiversity. Many species that are extinct in the wild would not be around today without them- zoos provide the opportunity for these rare animals to be re-introduced to their natural habitats. An example of this is the Socorro Dove, kept at Edinburgh Zoo. Breeding programs such as the European Endangered Species breeding program allow zoos to maintain the diversity of species by carefully choosing potential mates for each animal. This ensures that the species remains healthy and that the gene pool is kept as large as possible.

The issue is finding a balance between conservation and marketing. Some smaller less known animals may not be as popular as the larger more exotic ones, yet are just as important. By exhibiting for example a giraffe (IUCN red list: least concern) income is generated to support conservation programs for other animals. On the other hand, is it ethical to keep a non-endangered animal in captivity?

Zoos also conduct research. At Edinburgh Zoo ‘living links’ has been created in order to better understand the evolution of the human mind. Brown Capuchin monkeys, which are studied in the living links facility, are listed as least concern, so is it right to keep them in the zoo even to further our own knowledge? One particularly interesting piece of research taking place is the seeing colour project which looks at the differences between di-chromatic and tri-chromatic vision in members of the same species. http://www.living-links.org/category/research-projects/. Interestingly, the species with tri-chromatic vision generally have brighter coats than di-chromatics.

A Brown Capuchin

In the next few days i’ll add a few more posts on the work experience i’ve been doing so far this summer 🙂