Dear Friends of Wildlife
The new report by Born Free Foundation launched today, entitled ‘Animal Ark or Sinking Ship? An evaluation of conservation by UK zoos’ has revealed some startling findings. What we did was try to assess the conservation dividend that zoos deliver to threatened species and to the protection of natural habitat. On both counts, the 13 zoos that comprised the Consortium of Charitable Zoos (CCZ) – described as the most progressive zoos in the world – seem to have been found wanting. It is estimated that, on average, just 5 pence in every pound ends up conserving species in their natural habitat and the majority of species held in those 13 zoos are, as such, classified as “least concern” by the IUCN (World Conservation Union).
The media response to these findings has been significant. Over 20 radio stations have undertaken interviews with Born Free today as well as television coverage through GMTV and the BBC. Many interviewers have asked us what needs to be done and the answer seems to be two-fold:
Firstly, that we need to reprioritise where we spend scant resources. If there is no habitat for the species to live in or even to be returned to, should that be possible, then we have totally lost the battle and so we need to put much more effort into the protection of habitat than we currently do.
Secondly, we need to ask ourselves whether the zoo model is the best vehicle for the conservation of threatened species. Born Free would argue that based on the evidence before us, it is more likely that we shall be successful if we work on in situ (in their natural habitat) conservation than ex situ (in zoos) conservation. Click here for more information and to view Born Free’s new report.