The Contribution of Zoos Towards Wildlife Conservation

The Contribution of Zoos Towards Wildlife Conservation

Throughout history humans have made life for many species of animals difficult, and in order to compensate for it, zoos advocate animal welfare and greatly help the maintenance of this planet's biodiversity.

Humans have caused many species of animals to go extinct, and have pushed many others to the brink of it. Luckily, in order to combat the rapid rate of animal mortality caused by coexisting with humans, zoos operate towards a mission to conserve wildlife and improve the welfare of animals worldwide.

Over the last 47 years, the wild population of vertebrates has declined by 58 percent, and sadly, it is all due to us. Humans are hard to coexist with because as our population grows, more animals lose their homes or food sources. Losing needed sources and lacking places to live in is causing a tremendous shock in the wildlife population today. Habitat loss is the leading reason behind the alarmingly rapid decline of animal populations, and accounts for an 80 percent loss in biodiversity.

Even with the strongest efforts, controlling the rate of which humans destroy animals’ habitats is near to impossible due to the fast increase of the human population, consumerism, and recklessness. However, if we are unable to stop habitats from being destroyed, the least we can do is build them for animals to safely live in.

That is where zoos come in. Many people give zoos a bad name and wrongfully try to belittle their accomplishments. With wildlife being killed off and habitats vanishing, zoos provide healthy and stable shelter for animals. Animals in zoos have access to the adequate amounts of food that they need in order to be healthy, and live under constant veterinarian care, improving their welfare while elongating their lifespans. Conservation organizations can also thank zoos for helping them raise money and fund them, for a significant portion of the revenue gained by admissions and other purchases in zoos goes towards their projects.

Unfortunately, habitat loss is not the only peril that animals face today. There has been a cumulative death of over 73,000 elephants in Tanzania and Mozambique in the last five years due to poaching. While regulations, government interference, and efforts from conservation organizations are helping control the growth of poaching, they are not working fast enough.

The number of rhinos poached has only started decreasing since 2014, and resulted in the extinction of the Western black rhino. Man caused the demise of the Northern white rhinos, but later made it possible to raise their population size from almost extinct to near-threatened. Unfortunately, Northern white rhinos are extinct in the wild, but because of human care and breeding programs, there is still hope for repopulation.

One of the most significant contributions to animal conservation brought by zoos is through breeding programs, which directly increases the population of that given specie. The incapability of animals to breed contributes to the constant diminishing populations of wildlife. Under poor living conditions, the mortality rate of animals surpasses the birth rate, creating a negative pointing slope for its population. Also, one must keep in mind that childbirth always has its complications.

Due to the small pelvic size of squirrel monkeys, the offspring’s head is very large compared to the birth canal diameter, yielding a 34% mortality rate of newborns at birth. Hyenas also face immense danger during the childbirth process due to giving birth to a relatively large matured cub through an extremely narrow organ resembling the male’s reproductive organ. As a result of this excruciating process, about 70% of hyena firstborn cubs and 18% of first-time mothers die during childbirth.

Aside from the dangerous process, hyenas’ gestation lasts about 120 days, which is very long for predators, leaving them vulnerable to other predators. Under zoological care, expecting mothers are vigorously watched and taken care of, significantly decreasing the possibility of pregnancy-related health complications. Childbirth in zoological facilities are monitored and controlled by veterinarians and zookeepers, which protects both the mother and offspring, ensuring that both will survive and live on to further increase that specie’s population.

Zoos hold animals that have been seriously injured or have fled areas with danger from humans, and are responsible for much of the animals that are still left existing. If it was not for zoos, we could expect to have lost many more species of animals. One should not look at zoos as prisons, but instead, as facilities that provide as natural as possible homes for needing animals. AZA credited zoos give animals ethical and interactive habitats while scattering their foods in order to encourage natural behaviors such as browsing, scavenging, and foraging.

While the animals are living a healthy and safe life, the public is able to admire the majestic organisms and learn about them. Every zoo's goal is to inspire the people into somehow joining the effort, and share the appreciation that we humans should all have for animals. By educating the public and raising awareness about urgent conservation statuses, zoos increase the number of people working towards a world where animals can live with great welfare and prosper in the wild without disturbances from humans.

Cover Image Credit: San Diego Zoo

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Our National Parks Could Change Your Life, And Not Just Because They Make Insta-Worthy Backdrops

National parks are some of the greatest places in entire world.


I am not exactly a "tree-hugger;" I am definitely not "outdoorsy," but I absolutely adore our national parks here in the United States. I truly believe that our national parks are some of the greatest places on earth and that we should all visit national parks more often. This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park, and it was the most beautiful place I've ever seen. Every time I visit a national park, I have a wonderful time and want to encourage others to experience the same.

Honestly, I love going to national parks even more than I love shopping or sightseeing in new cities. While I like to find yummy coffee shops and browse cute boutiques, I'd much rather visit a national park to explore the trails, see the flora and fauna, and get away from social media for a while.

I feel like it's really easy to live in the United States and take our national parks for granted. They can seem monotonous, boring, or even "too difficult" to navigate. These are all just common misconceptions that should be ignored. National parks are interesting, fun, and available to everyone (with a good sense of direction or not), and I think that our parks deserve more credit than they receive.

A good cell signal is rare in national parks so visiting a park is the perfect break from social media and binge-watching Netflix. National parks are wonderful for self-care and releasing yourself from the pressures of social media. As long as you're safe and have a map that most parks provide, the break from cell service will be welcomed and beneficial in the long run.

Cameras, however, typically don't require cell service. There are plenty of subjects in nature to take pictures of. You could spend days upon days in a national park and never run out of subjects to capture. Also, national parks can inspire remarkable pieces of artwork, like paintings or poems. In Yosemite Valley this summer, I saw a man on one of the boardwalks painting a beautiful scene of Half-Dome as he saw it. National parks are the perfect place to create art, whether it's photography or something else.

Visiting national parks can be beneficial not only for mental health but also for physical health. Exploring a park is a great way to exercise at your own pace. Getting exercise in national parks doesn't feel quite the same as working out in a gym; exercising in a park may be more enjoyable for some people. Hiking or even just exploring, in a national park is great for both the mental and physical aspects of personal health.

As sappy as it may sound, there's also a sense of bonding in national parks. Everyone you encounter in a national park is probably there for the same reason as you - that is, to admire the beauty of nature! It's a wonderful, peaceful feeling and, personally, one of my favorite parts about visiting a national park.

Life is full of commitments and things that vie for our attention. I feel like visiting a national park is a rewarding decision that can help us escape the pressures of everyday life and appreciate the simple beauty of nature. I really encourage everyone to set aside time to visit a national park. Who knows, you may find a new hobby on your trip!

National parks aren't just for tree-huggers and fitness gurus. National parks welcome people from all walks of life and can be enjoyed by everyone for little to no cost. Follow this link to find a national park near you. Happy exploring!

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