The days are gone when zoos could scoop up a basket full of wild animals to replenish their zoo stock and maintain genetic diversity.
Now they are engaged in Species Survival Plans (SSPs) and it is projected that the best they can do is keep animals alive in zoos for 100 years and that is a stretch. It could be much less for endangered species in captivity.
Even if wild species can be kept alive in zoos it will be near impossible to reintroduce them into the wild because their habit will no longer exist.
The big problem appears to be inbreeding because of a lack of fresh blood.
I have said it before. In general, wild cat species do poorly in captivity. They breed badly. Under these circumstances how do you keep a species of wild cat alive in captivity? You can’t import fresh animals from the wild because firstly that runs against conservation and in any case they don’t breed. Their lifespans are often short (depending on the species).
Zoos these days engage in maintaining genetic diversity by working with each other under SSPs. Zoos share animals to avoid inbreeding. They keep careful records to manage and optimise breeding. It is, though, a downward spiral towards eventual extinction in captivity.
The conclusion is that it is very hard to sustain captive populations of wild species and as hard to return them to the wild. Avenues for avoiding extinction are being cut off by the destruction of the planet and the inability to maintain genetic diversity in captivity.
Captivity for wild animals is a failure and the fact that there is an optimistic projection of 100 years before they are extinct in captivity is evidence of that.
Source: In Kansas City and elsewhere……