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ZooCheck New Zealand

New Zealand Waxeye

Zoos ≠ Conservation

Putting the Con into Conservation
An opinion poll undertaken on behalf of the WSPA (The World Society for the Protection of Animals) reveals that Zoo propaganda in Britain has been successful in persuading the public that the industry plays a major role in conservation.

While 80% of those questioned said they were concerned about the welfare of animals kept in zoos, 76% felt that a large number of animals are protected from extinction by being kept in zoos.

51% said that they would not visit a zoo if they knew that they had little impact on the conservation of animals.

It is clear that, for the zoo industry, this marketing strategy is creating the desired result.

Most conservation experts agree that few of the worlds rare or endangered species can be saved from extinction by breeding them in captivity. In 1990 the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) drew up an action plan for the survival of 1370 species. It considered that the reintroduction of captive bred animals could assist in the conservation of only 19 species (1.4%).

Furthermore, where the captive breeding of wildlife was considered helpful this is best undertaken at purpose built breeding centres located near or adjacent to the species natural habitat. Such centres are a very different concept from traditional zoos.

Article - Zoos: The Conservation Myth

In-situ vs Ex-situ Cost Comparison

  • Annual captive management of Black Rhino per animal: US$16,000
  • Annual cost of protecting appropriate wild habitat to support one Rhino: US$1,000

Therefore, 16 Rhino can be supported in the wild, for the same cost of keeping a single Rhino in a zoo!

It has been estimated that it can cost over 100 times more to maintain a group of elephants in captivity for a year than to conserve a similar group, and their entire ecosystem, in-situ for the same period.

Garamba National Park, Zaire - Size 492,000ha.
Annual Operating costs for the National Park - US$269,500. Equivalent to the cost of keeping 16 Rhino in captivity.

The species protected in the Garamba National Park include:-

  • 31 Northern White Rhino
  • 4,000 Elephant
  • 30,000 Buffalo
  • The ENTIRE giraffe population of Zaire
  • 14 other ungulate species
  • 16 carnivore species
  • 1 primate species
  • 93 other small or medium-sized animal species

Source: Alibhai, S.K & Jewell, Z.C. "Saving the Last Rhino: In Situ Conservation or Captive Breeding?"Rhinowatch, 1993.


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