I believe I’ve kind of touched on this in previous discussions, but there’s no harm in reiterating my opinion on the matter I suppose.
I’m going to be super pretentious here and quote the definition of ‘zoo’ before moving on:
“an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public." - Oxford English Dictionary.
Indisputably the first two purposes outlined here - study and conservation - are important functions, and cannot be overlooked when considering the value of zoos. But they come at a price. A huge price. Animals are hard to maintain, and especially hard to breed. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of people to make breeding programmes work. That makes zoos a huge money sink.
Where do you get the funds to do research and conservation? The government is not going to provide them. Grants are unlikely to provide them. No, the only real source of funding for that kind of work comes from people. Here we must introduce that third function of a zoo - display to the public.
Fortunately for zoos, people are willing to pay rather a lot of money to see animals. People cursed with a child like the young me will even wind up paying rather a lot more than they would like to. Thus, zoos can fund their study and conservation by having a public interface.
And so you see there is a balance that must be struck. People pay to see big name animals, and those animals thereby pay for their own conservation as well as for the conservation of the lesser species also managed by the zoo.
It is in instances where the balance is not struck - where the zoos are not facilitating the study of their animals or contributing to their conservation, or are disproportionately concentrated on the public side of the scale, that I start to have problems with them. Often this comes with a failure to appreciate the requirements of the animals in their care, or a general lack of appropriate standards of hygiene and care. This is the typical pattern in developing countries, and it is these zoos that I have a problem with.
So to answer your question, zoos are highly variable. Some are fantastic, some are godawful. Zurich Zoo, for instance, is my favourite zoo in the world - it is truly excellent. Basel Zoo, on the other hand, is one of the worst zoos I have ever seen. The distance between the two doesn’t feel so much like 100 kilometres as 40 years. In theory, they are valuable and important facilities for education, research, and conservation. In practice, they can be these things, but are not always, and therein lies the problem with them.
Everyone who can please take some time and report this to Florida fish and wildlife commissions (FWC) This guy killed a protected eastern indigo (drymarchon couperi) in the state of Florida. Which can lead to him serving jail time. Conservation can’t work if we got idiots like him killing indigos. The website to report him is http://m.myfwc.com/contact/wildlife-alert/ Or google FWC report.myakka Florida. Manatee county
This, is heartbreaking.
My name is Wesley James. I live in Sarasota Florida and have been hiking Myakka State Park for as long as I’ve had legs.
I have, in 23 years, never ONCE seen a single wild indigo snake. They are not only my most favorite animal in Florida but among some of the most rare animals in the US.
The eastern indigo is critically endangered living almost exclusively in burrows of the also protected and also declining gopher tortoise(Gopherus polyphemus) which has had much of its habitat destroyed due to urban development. They are a harmless but large black colubrid, the largest in the US in fact, and often killed because of their imposing size. Anyone who has spent time with these animals knows however that they are quite docile and not inclined to bite at all. These animals are in extreme decline from all fronts due to a number of causes and unfortunately among them people who intentionally kill them. This, this akin to intentionally killing a rhino or Andean condor in terms of both rarity and ecological significance and it gets worse…
Judging from the size of this animal it’s likely to be a female. What this man has done is not only killed one single endangered animal but taken a whole possible generation of offspring. Females of snakes are not only important for birthing new generations but often much less common than males. In populations of certain species the ratio can be 10 to 1 and in extreme cases (certain garters) 100+ to 1. Taking a female out of the wild could prove potentially fatal to an entire local population.
Please, even if you are not fond of snakes, if you love animals understand that what this person has done is terrible, illegal, and damages both this species and the environment that is lives in. I love these animals, I love them with all my heart and the fact that this makes it that much less likely to see one hurts like losing a friend. I have several contacts in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and will be reporting this but if you could please share to spread awareness about this species I would be extremely grateful.
Thank you. -Wes.
In your opinion, would you consider zoos good or bad and why?
Artificial ‘misting system’ allows vanished toad to be released back into the wild
by Jeremy Hance
In 1996 scientists discovered a new species of dwarf toad: the Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis). Although surviving on only two hectares near the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania, the toads proved populous: around 17,000 individuals crowded the smallest known habitat of any vertebrate, living happily off the moist micro-habitat created by spray from adjacent waterfalls. Eight years later and the Kihansi spray toad was gone.
Disease combined with the construction of a hydroelectric dam ended the toads’ limited, but fecund, reign. However, before the toad population collapsed completely conservationists with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo were able to establish a captive population of 499 frogs. Now, researchers are releasing a seed population of Kihansi spray toads back into their native habitat, but with one caveat: an artificial “misting system” is the only thing standing between the tiny amphibians and a second extinction.
“As long as the hydroelectric dam persists, the misting system will be needed in order to provide sufficient ‘spray meadow’ habitat at the base of Kihansi Falls for the single Kihansi Spray Toad population to persist,” Don Church the President and Director of Wildlands Conservation with Global Wildlife Conservation told mongabay.com…
(read more: MongaBay)
(photos: T - Rhett Butler; B - Global Wildlife Conservation)