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

d species are the result of opportunistic collections rather than a major focus. Besides birds, threatened amphibians, insect-eating mammals (Eulipotyphyla) and rodents (Rodentia) are underrepresented in the world's zoos. In fact not a single one of the 84 endangered species of insectivorous mammals are found in zoos. Among mammals about half (92 of 201) of the endangered species are found in zoos. Overall, 57 out of the 59 animal orders that are found in zoos have a lower proportion of threatened species in zoos than in the wild.

This discrepancy is not the only challenge for conservation work in the zoos, the authors point out:

"Many zoos hold only a small population of an endangered species and they are struggling to make the populations grow. The zoos need to be able to share experiences and individuals with other populations in order to get a healthy growing population. But this is difficult, if not impossible, when there are thousands of miles between populations of the same species and it is highly challenging to get permits to exchange animals", the researchers explain.

The large distances can make it so difficult to work with endangered species that zoos have to give up.

Another big problem is international legislation on endangered species. To protect trade and trafficking of endangered animals, it is almost impossible to get permission to transport an endangered animal across national borders even for captive breeding programs.

"This legislation is effective against trafficking, but it also prevents zoos from exchanging endangered animals, and this is a seriously huge barrier to developing breeding programs of endangered animals", says Dalia Conde.

"Zoos need to be able to work together. Ideally zoos could coordinate their work on one or a few high-risk species by working together in regional clusters", she says.

According to Dalia Conde, Owen Jones and Fernando Colchero there are many practical benefits from working together
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Contact: Birgitte Svennevig
birs@sdu.dk
University of Southern Denmark
Source:Eurekalert  

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