Introduction BIAZA describe themselves as “a professional organisation


Historically zoos have a cultural importance, menageries of
exotic animals were once kept to demonstrate wealth, a famous example of this
was the royal menagerie in the Tower of London. Today most zoos have changed
from these origins and support the conservation of biodiversity by research,
education and breeding programmes (Mazur & Clark, ???). The first
zoological park was established in 1828 by the Zoological Society of London
(Kisling, 1993). Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centauries animal
husbandry changed to give a better quality of life to the animals in zoos, these
changes included better vetinary care and more research and knowledge on
nutritional diets for the captive animals (Kisling, 1993). Along with this
keepers also began to rely on published works and research rather than just
word of mouth passed down when caring for the captive animals (Kisling, 1993).

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The UK Zoo Licensing Act (1981) defines a zoo as an
establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition to the public, other
than in a circus or in a pet shop, to which members of the public have access,
with or without charge for admission, on more than seven days in any period of
twelve consecutive months. Many zoos belong to regional zoo associations, in
Ireland and the UK The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums
(BIAZA) is the relevant association. BIAZA began in 1966 and now has 111
members from ranging small children’s animal parks to large zoological
societies (BIAZA, 2016). BIAZA describe themselves as “a professional
organisation which represents its members and promotes the values of good zoos
and aquariums” and supports its members to “inspire people to help conserve the
natural world, participate in effective co-operative conservation programmes,
deliver the highest quality environmental education, training and research, and
achieve the highest standard of animal care and welfare in zoos, aquariums and
in the wild” (BIAZA, 2016). Other regional zoo associations include the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in the USA and the European Association
of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA).

Today zoos are one of the most popular recreation destinations
(Fa et al., 2011). In their 2005
report the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) stated that every
year there were more than 600 million peope visiting zoos around the world. As
zoos attract such a wide range of people from all walks of life each year, this
makes them a platform for education, conservation and research, as well as a
place of recreation.


Main body



A goal of modern zoos is to contribute to the conservation
and restoration of biological diversity (Mazur & Clark, ????? ). The
Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 defines conservation as measures to maintain or
enhance or restore the quality, value or diversity of species, habitats,
communities, geological features or geomorphological features.  It is an important practice in the maintenance
of life on the planet (Miller et al., 2004).

The two main conservation
strategies are in situ and ex situ conservation (Kasso &
Balakrishnan, 2013).  

In situ conservation
of biodiversity takes place on site, it is the long term conservation of
species which are threatened by extinction in their natural habitat. It usually
requires the elimination of the causes of species decline. These causes of
species decline can include the impact of introduced species in an area (Loehle
& Eschenbach, 2012), an example of this was the extinction of the
flightless wrens in New Zealand due to introduced non native rats (Blackburn et al., 2004). Habitat loss and
fragmentation caused by human activities such as deforestation are examples of
causes of decline in many species (Leijs et
al., 1999) since the 1950’s alone over 30% of the planets forests have been
removed (Miller et al., 2004). A
species is usually considered to have gone extinct if it has not been located
in 50 years (Fa et al., 2011). In situ conservation often includes area
based conservation such as national parks and protected areas, an example of
this is the Galapagos marine reserve (Charles Darwin Foundation, 2000).

Ex situ conservation of biodiversity happens off site, it is the
conservation of individual species away from their natural range in zoos,
wildlife parks, aquaria, seed banks and botanic gardens. This is a
complimentary approach to In situ
conservation usually (Kasso & Balakrishnan, 2013). Ex situ conservation consists of individuals collected from remnant
wild populations being maintained and captive populations increased through
captive breeding programmes so that the species can be re-introduced to the
wild. Well known examples of successful reintroduction into the wild include
European Bison, Bison bonasus,(Jorgenson,
2013) and Przewalski’s horse, Equus ferus
przewalskii, which were extinct in the wild (Cohn, 1988). Ex situ conservation is becoming more necessary
as wild ecosystems are declining (Miller et
al., 2004).


The two principal aspects of Ex situ conservation programes are to increase the remnant population
while maintaining genetic health and to release the captive bred individuals
into the wild to develop self sustaining wild breeding populations (Kasso &
Balakrishnan, 2013). To understand how threatened a species is by extinction
the genetics of the remnant population must be studied (Fernández et al., 2004). N is the size of the
captive population at the time (Ballou et
al.,???? ). N must be kept large to maintain genetic health of a population
(Soulé, 1985). Small populations can be affected by random genetic drift and
inbreeding, these genetic processes are referred to as genetic erosion and can
lead to an extinction vortex (Leijs et
al., 1999). To maintain the genetic diversity of a population H and P must
be maximised (Fernández et al., 2004).
This is because a species ability to adapt to different environmental changes
is dependant on high genetic diversity (Li
et al., 2017, Fernández et al., 2004).
P is the proportion or percentage of polymorphic genes in a population, a gene
in a population is polymorphic if it has more than one allele (Franklin et al., 2004). It can be used as a
measure of the genetic health of a population. H is the average proportion or
percentage of genes in an individual that are present in a heterozygous form
(Franklin et al., 2004). It can be
used as a measure of the genetic health of an average individual in a
population. Monitoring these values can also help measure the how successfully
the breeding programmes are performing (Fernández et al., 2004).


Captive breeding as an effort of conservation began in the
1970s (Cohn, 1988) this occurred at the same time as new laws and regulations
were brought in which stated that zoos had to source new stock from within
rather than the wild (Cohn, 1988). By 1985 90% of mammals and 74% of birds
added to US zoo collections that year were bred in captivity (Cohn,1988). The
US Fish and Wildlife service has since also put policies in place that emphasize
that institutions who seek permits to own endangered species need to show that
if theyre allowed to own the species it will enhance the species survival in
the wild (Miller et al., 2004).


Behaviours in animals develop in response to the environment
they are in (Wong & Candolin, 2015). A behaviour is defined as an animal’s
response to a stimulus (Hosey et al., 2009).
Stimuli can come from the physical environment around the animal, for example
temperature, as well as coming from other animals, for example warning calls. As
well as conserving the genetic health of a species it is important to conserve
the natural behaviours of a species. This helps to maximise animals and species
chances of survival in the wild when they are released and to help limit the
loss of biodiversity (Berger- Tal et al.,
2011) as natural behaviours of animals ensure the survival and reproductive
success of an animal (Garner, 2005).


Environmental enrichment is an animal husbandry principle in
place in zoos and other captive environments which is used to enhance the
quality of the captive life with the addition of the necessary stimuli for the animals
well being (Schetini de Azevedo et al., 2007).
As behaviour is linked to homeostasis (Garner, 2005) environmental enrichment
is a very important aspect of conservation in zoos as it conserves wild
behaviours that the animals will need to survive when they are reintroduced
into the wild. It gives the opportunity to the animals to perform the species
specific behaviours the help them avoid high stress levels that lead to stereotypic
behaviour (Garner, 2005). Many species have complex behaviours which are important
to the survival of the species, if these behaviours were lost the species may
be too, for example whooping cranes teach their young migratory patterns
(Horwich, 2001).  Environmental
enrichment is also important for the well being of the captive animals as it
can reduce stereotypic behaviours and improve the overall health of the animals
as a result (Shepherdson, 1994). Stereotypic behaviours are defined as
repetitive, unvarying and apparently functionless behaviour patterns (Mason et al., 2007). They can be caused by
stress and fear in animals (Fairhurst et
al., 2011) as well as boredom in an under stimulating environment (Fa et al., 2011). Examples of stereotypic
behaviours include pacing in Leopards, Felis
bengalensis, (McPhee & Carlstead, 2010). Excessive grooming and
mouthing enclosures are other typical stereotypic behaviours seen in captive animals
(Garner, 2005). To be effective environmental enrichment must be designed
specific to the species it is aimed at, the same type of enrichment will not
work for all species (Fa et al., 2011).
The purpose of the enrichment as well as the materials used and safety to the
animal must also be considered in the design process. There are five major forms
of environmental enrichment used in zoos. These are food based, physical,
sensory, social and cognitive. Food based enrichment is commonly used in zoos. This
is used to try avoid the predictability of food in a certain place at a certain
time which is unlike the wild (Dehn, 2009). The Irish Standards of Modern Zoo
Practice (2016) discourage the live feeding of vertebrate prey to captive
animals unless under specialist nutritional advice, the Animal Health and
Welfare Act (2013) prohibits the feeding of live vertebrate prey in front of
the public and only allows the feeding of live vertebrate prey to captive
animals in special circumstances where written justifications and ethical
review processes have taken place. This restricts species specific hunting behaviours
in captive carnivores. Using electronically controlled feeders to deliver food
at unpredictable times in unpredictable areas has been used as a method of
enrichment for red foxes. Kistler et al, (2009)
found these feeders to stimulate natural foraging and feeding behaviours in the
red foxes. Carnivores can also


A model was created by Berger- Tal et al. (2011) which aimed to show the main connections between
conservation and animal behaviour, this is the conservation behaviour framework
and is seen in figure 1. This framework is made up of three main ideas. The
first is the idea of anthropogenic impacts on animal behaviour, these impacts
are caused by human disturbances for instance habitat fragmentation or
introduction of alien species. Behaviours evolved to maximise fitness (Caughly
& Gunn, 1996). The first way this model shows these disturbances affecting
behaviour is by the fitness of the existing behaviours decreasing (Berger- Tal et al., 2011). This happens when
behaviours are not plastic enough to respond to the anthropogenic impact.
Plasticity refers to the ability to change behaviours as an adaption to a
changing environment (Berlucchi & Buchtel, 2008). The second way this model
shows these disturbances affecting behaviour is if the behaviour is very
plastic it may be changed by human impacts (Berger- Tal et al., 2011). This can lead to changing the fitness of other
behaviours or the dynamics of the community.

The second idea of this frame work is behaviour based
management. There are two ways this happens. The first way is behaviour- sensitive
management where the behaviour of the species is considered when making
conservation decision making protocols (Berger- Tal et al., 2011). This can be important when enclosures are being
designed for zoos as well as when reintroduction of the animals into the wild
is being planned. It can lead to the changing of the behaviours of a population
in order to stabilize the population if it is declining for example from the introduction
of invasive species (Berger- Tal et al., 2011).
The second type of behaviour based management focuses on preserving the
behaviour within the individuals. This is important for in zoos for the
reintroduction of species as it can lead to captive bred individuals being
aware of predators and how to deal with them or knowing how to hunt prey. This
is known as behavioural modification (Berger- Tal et al., 2011).

The third idea of this framework is behavioural indicators. Behaviours
organisms adapt can tell us about the individuals environment and any changes
in the environment (Wong & Candolin, 2015). There are two ways these
behavioural indicatiors are used in conservation, these are to provide an early
warning to population decline before it is evident and to evaluate the success
of management programs, for instance the success of environmental enrichment
programs in zoos (Berger- Tal et al., 2011)..
The behavioural indicators which may be used include foraging patterns and
habitat selection.

These three main ideas linking animal behaviour and
conservation are very important to be considered in conservation programs in
zoos as when theyre considered and integrated into the conservation programs it
can give the animals a better chance for successful reintroduction into the
wild if natural behaviours are maintained in captivity.


Figure 1: Berger- Tal et
al. (2011) conservation behaviour framework.


Miller et al.
(2004) set out a number of questions to help evaluate how successful zoos are
in maintaining and fulfilling their missions of conservation and if their
commitment can be improved. These questions were put in place as many authors
were urging zoos to do more to contribute directly to conservation efforts,
these include Rabb (1994), Waugh and Wemmer (1994) and Conway (1995). The first
question they asked in this study was “Does conservation define institutional
policy decisions?” They then suggested short term measures to answer if the
support for conservation in zoos is strong enough to become included in policy
decisions. These measures include the obligation for financial support to the
conservation mission as well as the commitment of paid employees towards the
mission of conservation in the zoos. The next question they asked in this study
was “Does the institution have significant orginizational funding for
conservation activities?”. It states that the zoo must allocate operationg
costs towards conservation as well as any income raised for conservation from
outside sources to be financially commited to the mission of conservation. 25%
of a zoos budget is the minimum level that Miller et al. (2004) suggest
to  be spent on conservation if a zoo is
financially committed to the mission of conservation. This is suggested to
maximise chances of success of the conservation programmes. The third question
in their evaluation was “Does the institution have a functional conservation
department that performs conservation science and/or increases the capacity of
others to do conservation?”.  It was
suggested to be dedicated to the mission of conservation that there must be
conservation scientist on the zoo staff or agreements made with universities to
conduct research on conservation projects, an example given of an agreement
like this is The Smithsonian National Zoological Park having agreements with
three local universities (Miller et al., 2004).
A local example of this kind of an agreement is the ongoing collaboration of
Fota Wildlife Park, Cork with UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and
Environmental Sciences (Fota, www1). These measures are also suggested in the
EAZA research standards. The forth question asked in this evaluation was “Does
the institution advocate for conservation?”. 
It is suggested that if zoos are committed to their mission of
conservation then they must put emphasis not only on their collection of
animals but also the conservation of nature. It is also stated that if zoos
have a neutral stance on things it indicates they agree with any existing
actions that may damage wildlife and that to be committed to their mission of
conservation they must not be politically active. The fifth question asked to
evaluate a zoos commitment to conservation was “Do the institution’s
conservation education programmes effectively target children and adults?”.  It was concluded that to be committed to their
mission of conservation zoos must encourage people to conserve nature by providing
active eduction that reinforces the values and beliefs linked to the
conservation of nature. This can be done with outreach programmes in the local
community such as the biodiversity conservation in the 21st century
education program aimed at secondary level students ran by Fota wildlife park,
Cork. The sixth question in the study was “Does the institution contribute
directly to habitat protection, both internationally and locally?”. It was
stated that to be committed to their mission of conservation a zoo must provide
support and financial assistance to programmes and parks that protect habitats.
Fota Wildlife Park can be used as an example of a zoo supporting habitat
protection both locally and abroad having supported the conservation of Menabé
Forest in Madagascar as well as the conservation of the Irish Peatlands (Fota,
www1). The seventh question asked to evaluate the conservation efforts of a zoo
was “do the institution’s exhibits promote conservation efforts?”.  To answer this question Miller et al. referenced three questions  put forward by Conway (2000), these questions
were designed to be asked about every new zoo exhibit. They are “(1) if this
exhibit were not built, would wildlife be hurt, helped or unaffected? (2) Will
it provide for the continuity of its inhabitants? (3) Will it contribute to
species preservation in nature?” (Miller et
al., 2004). It was stated that for an exhibit to be installed all three of
these questions should be positively answered, otherwise the zoos exhibits
would not be promoting its mission of conservation. Loss of wild behaviours as
well as adaptation to captivity are two things that may happen through the existence
of zoo exhibits which don’t promote their conservation efforts and answer
positively to the three questions. The last question asked in the evaluation of
zoos conservation efforts was “Do the institute’s internal operating policies
protect the environment?”. It is important for zoos to be environmentally
friendly if they are committed a mission of conservation. Being environmentally
friendly can mean increased efficiency and less waste which can sometimes lead
to less unnecessary spending so more funds can go directly towards
conservation. This is not always the case as recycled and “green” building
materials are often a greater expense than ordinary materials (AACE
International, 2008).

When these eight questions are applied to zoos on an
individual zoo by zoo survey basis they can help us to answer the question how
useful are zoos in terms of conservation for different individual zoos. They
also show how levels of conservation in zoos can be improved. Different zoos
will differ in commitment levels to conservation and how useful they are in
terms of conservation.