Zoos play a vital role in animal conservation across the world | Letter

Dr Jo Judge from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums says the welfare of animals, underpinned by science and evidence, is at the heart of good zoos

Your article (Conflict between activists and zoos shows no sign of going away, 17 October) does a disservice to the work of zoos and aquariums. The science shows that conservation and education are effective at good zoos and aquariums.

UK zoos lead the world on animal welfare. The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza) and UK licensing standards give the highest level of protections to zoo animals in the world. Welfare is at the heart of good zoos and it is underpinned by science and evidence. Everything from nutrition to exercise is examined to ensure the animals in human care are able to demonstrate their natural behaviours.

On education, a peer-reviewed study in 2014 found that zoo and aquarium visits help increase the number of people who understand biodiversity and the actions that they can take to protect it. And a 2020 study found that seeing animals in zoos and engaging in zoo education can increase a student’s connection with nature.

On conservation, a 2021 report shows that the fate of 29 native species rests in the hands of just seven zoos and aquariums, and that at least 76 native species in total are being restored by the work of zoos. All the major conservation successes from bison to beavers have had good zoos involved.

Biaza members are engaged in 800 conservation projects in 105 countries. Last week, the Guardian reported on a study by one of our members, the Zoological Society of London, which, along with the WWF, demonstrated that we had lost 69% of animal populations over 50 years. From protecting coral reefs to replanting rainforest in South America, our zoos are making a difference across the world.
Dr Jo Judge
CEO, Biaza

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