Going to the zoo is always an interesting experience for me. On the one hand, I love getting up close and personal with all the animals. I’ve found that the longer I spend watching them, the more personality they seem to have. For instance, the last time I went I spent a lot of time at the tiger exhibit. All the tigers except one were taking a nap. The one who wasn’t sleeping was pacing the cage restlessly and then finally started trying to wake up his fellow tigers by batting them obnoxiously in the face with his paw. They all just sort of groaned and went back to sleep. It was so cute!
However, I think sometimes zoos get a bad rap because all the animals are indeed in cages no matter how realistic the exhibits may be. But zoos serve more of a purpose than entertainment for small children. They play a critical role in conservation that many people don’t realize.
Many zoos are refuges for endangered animals. When scientists come across a critically endangered species, they usually send a few to a zoo to start a captive breeding program. This way if the species becomes extinct in the wild, at least there is a backup stock that they can work with. And the baby animals are always popular with the general public.
If a species that has gone extinct in the wild either globally or locally, zoos can step in and release some of their animals into their native range. This process is complicated and many times the introduction doesn’t stick, especially if the animal has lived in a zoo all their life. However, some of the most successful stories involve an animal being rehabilitated and then immediately released.
Another important function zoos fill is that of education. Anytime I go to a zoo there are always helpful zoo workers to answer any of my questions. Not only that, but zoos often put on different programs (Birds of Prey, Reptiles, etc) that people can go watch and learn about the animals they are paying money to see.
All in all, as long as the animals are managed properly zoos can be great institutions for helping out the global conservation effort.
To see more pictures from this collection, head back to Newscom.
Or you might enjoy these other blogs about animals:
This entry was posted on Monday, May 7th, 2012 at 5:07 pm and is filed under Nature and the Environment. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.