Many UK zoos frequently promote themselves as centres for species conservation and public education.
Born Free questions whether the conservation credentials of UK zoos should be taken on trust alone. For example, despite frequent claims of their role in conservation, almost every zoo in the UK keeps more species at lower risk of extinction than those threatened with extinction. The funding of conservation in the wild by zoos is also a relatively tiny sum, especially when compared to the funds zoos spend on advertising and catering, for example.
The evidence for the positive educational impact of zoos is not strong, with research into this field hampered by poor methodology. Despite claims to the contrary, it is not clear that visiting zoos leads to beneficial educational outcomes for children or adults.
Photo: © Mike Dooley