We at ZooVue have had the fortune to experience working in a number of zoos, from ones that are poor struggling and extremely low budgets to ones with new build projects with huge budgets. There is a lot of criticism thrown at zoos for the limited conservation work they carry out, lack of investment, limited number of species. However there are some very good examples of Zoo conservation projects, and initiatives with a whole range of species.
The issue is often one of funding, visitor interest, species choice, impact on operational budget and feasibility. Some of the larger zoos can be more proactive in conservation, and absorb more of the cost they are also are better at accessing funding, grants and raising finance, but some of the best conservation projects are carried out by smaller more focused zoos, and those in situ in the country where the species is endemic.
Many zoos now are committed to conservation either through their own desire to make a difference or as a requirement of the membership of the relevant zoo association, be it WAZA, BIAZA, AZA, EAZA, SEAZA etc. However there are so many zoos, collections, sanctuary’s, private collections that are not members of an association, because they cannot afford membership, cannot meet the requirements or pass an inspection or are not engaged in the idea and the benefits of an association.
ZooVue aims to bring everyone together.
There are many zoos we all would like to see closed down around the globe because of poor animal welfare but at the same time there is not a coherent plan for the closure and the animals that need re-homing, or the many that are in private membership that turn up at these zoos when the owners get bored or injured by their exotic pets -
ZooVue’s conservation Parks will take animals back to their country of origin to eventually be reintroduced back to their natural environment. ZooVue has so many friends and former colleagues who are working around the world, trying to help poor zoos, individual animals, staff or introducing education to the zoo, or enrichment for the animals, or build a better enclosure, usually on a voluntary basis. We often reflect on the work we do and how long does it have a positive impact when we have gone. We don’t know the answer but with increasing species extinction, a growing population, and shrinking habitats, We are sure this work will never stop, and we will always have bad zoos out there -
but their is hope and that is ZooVue.
Now lets come back to the conservation question and if we link it to all these factors mentioned, think of how many species and conservation important species being kept in a multitude of zoo collections, that are actually not part of a captive breeding program, not part of a conservation project, and fulfil a role of just entertainment for the visitors or owners.
So what if ZooVue could engage these collections and actually help them improve the zoo via a conservation program or a captive breeding program, or free membership of a national or regional association?
If ZooVue did a review rather than an inspection, as a method of highlighting where the zoo was at this time and place. Offer them free regional membership, which offers them access to material, expertise, conferences, marketing, business consultancy. We then find a species that they have that is an important conservation species, or one that would help gene pool of the captive population in other zoos and let that Zoo become the centre of excellence for that species.
Let ZooVue help
What a project and initiative does like this is develop relationships, reduces fear of criticism which often leads to isolation and a decrease in knowledge of the collection. It can lead to links with conservation groups, zoos, NGO, s etc., who in turn offer advice, training, access to grants, good publicity, more visitors, more funding and so on.
ZooVue is not saying that the conservation initiative has all the answers, but what it does is highlight a species that becomes the 'flagship species for the zoo' it attracts funding and help that then has an indirect benefit on the other animals, and leads to improvements in other areas. This conservation initiative also has great benefits for all, links between zoos, increases conservation efforts across the board, and importantly, brings the poorer zoos into the system, improves the training of staff, improves animal welfare, and has a good conservation impact on the species. Furthermore imagine nowadays you can see it all happen on line, on your phone, and often live and follow the progress, be part of it, support, volunteer, offer advice etc.
Most Zoos do not have the resources to build and develop conservation projects as they dont have the personnel, experience, time or money - we do.
We are raising funds for all Zoos so that we can implement a conservation programme that will make each Zoo become a centre of excellence for one species.
So please help us support the important work Zoos do in the field of conservation and wildlife protection. Every penny helps and if we can help save one anaimal for extinction then we all can be proud of our legacy for our children.