The role of zoos and aquaria in animal reintroductions to the wild

The world faces a biodiversity crisis and conservation efforts are needed to protect species from extinction. Reintroductions using source populations from zoos and aquaria offer an opportunity to re-establish species in the wild following extinction or substantial reductions in population size. However, there has been little evaluation of the role that zoos and aquaria play in reintroducing animals to the wild. With this in mind, Rachel Gardner, one of our students on the joint Marwell Wildlife and University of Southampton MRes in Wildlife Conservation, designed her research project to assess the current role played by zoos and aquaria with reintroductions, and provide insights to aid further improvements. Initial results from this research were recently published in the International Zoo Yearbook  in a paper evaluating historical contributions to this area of conservation. Whilst zoos do provide animals for reintroduction to the wild, their greatest contributions were funds, staff, expertise, equipment and project coordination. Zoos and aquaria have an important role to play in reintroductions especially as emphasis shifts away from the traditional zoos versus wild dichotomy and towards the integrated conservation management of species.

 

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