A Zoo View


STUDENTS: Module 2: Decisions Based on Science

Zoo icon. A Zoo View Our relationship with the other inhabitants of our planet is important to the overall quality of life.

According to Linda Koebner in her book, Zoo Book: The Evolution of Conservation Centers, zoos have moved through many evolutionary stages, from menageries, to zoological parks, to conservation centers.

 

A pharoah and his lion.

Greg and gang at the zoo.

A blue and yellow Macaw.Our students and an elephant listen intently.

Only 10% of the 1400 zoos in North America are accreditedby the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). The AZA enforces strict rules for the care and treatment of animals and periodically sends inspectors to assess compliance with these rules. Animal rights groups also monitor both accredited and nonaccredited zoos to make sure animals are not being mistreated.
Some of the issues addressed by today's zoo:

Environmental Enrichment is an attempt to provide humane ways to keep animals in A praire dog.captivity. Practices can be very complex (artificial, fleeing-prey devices for leopards) or very simple (providing dirt burrows for prairie dogs). A simple structure such as a tree stump for bears to scratch their backs on can provide a more natural environment for the animals, allowing them to exert some control over their environment. This can result in healthier, more relaxed animals that can successfully breed.

Naturalistic Upgrading is used to improve an animal's captive habitat and make it more like its natural environment. Some zoos have not used natural elements at all; their exhibits are constructed with plastic and other synthetic materials that are strictly design features intended for the benefit of the viewer. However, some zoos have made impressive strides in upgrading their animals' environments. Two excellent examples are Zoo Atlanta and the Roger Williams Park in Providence R.I. Both have proved that it is possible to enrich the animals' space with little money and lots of creativity.

Science meets Mother Nature in Captive Breeding programs. Tissue, sperm, eggs and embryos of the world's most endangered species are stored in protective cryogenics freezers. Species survival plans are developed and implemented to match captive animals for matingCryogenic storage for endangered species preservation. and also contribute to a healthy gene pool.


Some zoos, such as the Bronx Zoo's Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), are implementing Habitat Conservation efforts for wild species. The WCS' strategies include gathering the field research necessary to devise long-term conservation plans, opening wildlife parks and reserves, and training local scientists to work in their own countries. Some key zoo leaders believe that habitat conservation should be the mission of zoos. Terry Maple, Director of Zoo Atlanta says conservation plans "...allow us to save the wild. We just flat aren't going to save these animals in zoos..."

Many zoos have made Species Reintroduction efforts a part of their mission. Reintroduction is expensive and it is not known how a captive species will adapt in the wild until it has been released.

Jaz, a new success story for the Audubon zoo.

Zoo entry graphic.

Vocabulary:

zoo
menagerie
accredited
endangered
species
reintroduction
enrichment
naturalistic
captive breeding
habitat conservation
 
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