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Scientists warn: Conservation work in zoos is too random
Date:1/15/2014

The world's zoos work hard and spend enormous resources on the conservation of endangered species, but the resources are not always optimally spent. One big problem is international legislation and the need of more zoos to work in regional or global networks. Zoo resources can be spent much more effectively, say scientists from University of Southern Denmark after analyzing animal collections across the world's zoos.

Many zoos work hard to protect and breed endangered animal species in captivity, and they spend a lot of money doing so. But the effort is too random and the work is crippled by international legislation, making it impossible to optimize the conservation efforts. There is a need for an international joint strategic effort if we want good results from all the money spend, conclude the researchers, ecologists Dalia A. Conde, Owen Jones and Fernando Colchero from the University of Southern Denmark in the scientific journal PLOS One.

"The prevalence of threatened species in zoo's do not always reflect the number of threatened species in the wild", says Dalia Conde.

For example, although zoo collections are heavily focused on birds, there are only few threatened birds in zoos. Contrary to this zoos have a heavy focus on threatened turtles (Testudines) and carnivorous marsupial (Dasyuromorphia).

Regarding to the high number of threatened marsupials, Dalia Conde explains that Australian zoos are trying to use these species not only for captive breeding programs but also to educate people about the threats, that a local species faces.

"As for the high number of turtles, one of the reasons is that the zoos have to take over many confiscated animals after smugglers have tried to trade them illegally", she says.

The prevalence of endangered species in zoos therefore not always reflects the prevalence in nature. Two groups - the turtles and carnivorous marsupial - are overrepresented, while most groups of threatene
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Contact: Birgitte Svennevig
birs@sdu.dk
University of Southern Denmark
Source:Eurekalert  

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