Are zoos threatening or protecting our endangered species?

By: Ashley Harris

There are over forty thousand endangered species around the globe; some of which hold crucial necessities to not only keep the food chain alive but also life as we know it alive.

According to the ‘IUCN Red List’ which is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species; 41% of all amphibians are at an extreme risk of going extinct. Amphibians play essential roles, both as predators and prey, in their ecosystems. Amphibians tend to eat pest insects such as flies, mealworms, crickets, and all sorts of beetles; all of which are known to cause problems such as carrying disease, damaging crops, and much more.

With all the risks included in losing some of earth’s critical species, scientists around the world have been trying to come up with a solution for centuries. Finally, after years of debate, The Phoenix Zoo in Arizona sparked a chain of what is now known as captive breeding. Captive breeding is the process in which a zoo takes in at least two endangered animals from the same species and drives them to reproduce until finally reintroducing them into the wild.

Sounds like the perfect solution right? Well, although this might seem like a great idea there have been many speculations in the past few years; as well as accusations towards certain risk factors that the zoos were covering up. Some of these risk factors include minor things such as the animals refusing to reproduce, but mostly include major factors such as the spread of disease, loss of genetic diversity, depression and/or anxiety in the animals, and unsustainable conditions for the animals to live in due to insufficient funds.

Although this list seems vast these are only the risk factors that take place in the zoo itself; many more risks come with the reintroduction of animals back into the wild. Animals are crucial to life on earth, but should we turn to zoos as the answer?

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