Animal ark or sinking ship?

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.

Very best,


2 Responses to “Animal ark or sinking ship?”

  1. Val Hackett Says:

    No zoo is a good zoo. Zoos are not about conservation but about money. Conservation is about wildlife in its own habitat and resources should be spent on maintaining their natural habitat and education of the people within and around that habitat to ensure harmony with people and wildlife.
    To see an animal pacing behind bars is not education or conservation. It is not true wildlife and I argue that children should not be educated in this way, as it is providing them with a false picture.
    It will, of course, be difficult and sometimes impossible for many children to see a lion or a tiger in any other place but a zoo, but I feel it is better that they do not see them behind bars, but see them and learn about them on film, in glorious photographs and on the Born Free website.
    The Born Freee Foundation do fantastic work with wildlife and indeed with education and long may you continue.
    Val Hackett.

  2. Jonathan Says:

    Hi Will,

    Completely in agreement with Born Free on this issue.