Featured Image Credit: Daily Venture
By Emily Persico
Whether you like it or not, there are zoos and aquariums everywhere. You’ve probably been to at least one in your lifetime, a tourist in the vast, managed habitats of species from around the world. Yet zoos and aquariums are so much more than a tourist destination, and there was once a time when they were so much less.
Let’s start with the good. Zoos and aquariums are hubs for education, research, and conservation. Moreover, they are genuinely great places to live. The American Humane Conservation has designed a third-party certification program to ensure this, promising the wellbeing of all captive animals under their certification roof. The standards they set are rigorous, and they have resulted in captive animals living empirically longer, healthier and richer lives than animals in the wild.
Don’t worry… it gets better. On top of providing a cozy habitat for animals in captivity, zoos, and aquariums actively improve conditions for wild animals. In what scientists have termed the “Sixth Extinction,” humans have transformed this world into a place where many animals (two-thirds to be approximate) could go extinct within ten years without human intervention. Alas, it is up to zoos and aquariums to intervene.
Intervene they have. Together, zoos and aquariums spend over 100 million each year for field conservation. They have also saved countless species from imminent decimation, including the red wolf, the Louisiana pine snake, the Arabian Oryx and the black-footed ferret. All of these valued creatures were rescued through highly organized, cross-institutional breeding programs. Many others have been saved too, either directly or through the influence of education and research.
Aquariums haven’t always had the shiniest reputation, but they’ve certainly done a 180º. An ethical evolution has evolved our zoos and aquariums to what they are today: Centers of rehabilitation, scientific learning, and conservation.
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