You may think of zoos as a place where people go to gawk at captive animals. Or you may think of zoos as vital partners in your role managing wildlife for the people of your state. The US Fish and Wildlife has a significant track record in working with zoos to conserve federally endangered species. Could you do the same on a state level?
At the AAAS annual meeting in Boston earlier this week, John Fraser of New Knowledge Organization made the case for zoos’ role in conservation as more than mere arks that protect endangered species when the wild isn’t safe.
Fraser said that when it comes to handling animals, no one does it better than zoos, because no one has more practice. He said that zoos are the place to turn for expert advice and even hired help when you need to handle certain wild animals in your research.
He also pointed out that zoos can provide research subjects when for whatever reason studying the species in the wild won’t do. He said that because zoos have experience with the entire life-cycle of a species, they can provide information that can inform conservation in the wild and even the needs of other, similar species.
Finally, he noted that the gawking public often only learns to appreciate a species when they’ve seen it up close in a zoo, and in that way zoos can provide a public relations platform for conservation efforts.