Amur leopard

The Role of Conservation in Zoos: How Modern Zoos Help Wildlife

Conservation in zoos is a topic that gets brought up all the time. For example, people may ask why zoos even exist. Wouldn’t the animals cared for in zoos be better off in the wild where they grew up? The answer is sadly no. This isn’t always the case. 


Zoos play a big role in ensuring endangered animals are provided with shelter and resources to continue living and eventually repopulate. There are a lot of variables that threaten an animal’s very existence. Whether that be starvation, poachers, predators, and habitat loss, just to name a few. This is where conservation in zoos comes into play.


Here at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, our mission is to promote the conservation of all our animals. At the park, we provide the best care possible to all animals while educating the public on our conservation efforts. 


We ensure they are kept in spaces and provided with food that resembles their natural habitat. There are many opportunities for families to interact with and learn about the animals. With the most knowledgeable keepers we could ever have, we are committed to making a change in the world. 


Thankfully there are many other zoos—similar to Tanganyika Wildlife Park—that undertake the same journey. Why is conservation in zoos so important? All animals around the world, just like us humans, deserve to live without the fear of losing their homes or their loved ones. Animals play a vital part in making sure the planet is healthy and alive. It is urgent that we take action now to make sure that the animals of today and tomorrow are safe. 


By putting a large emphasis on promoting conservation in zoos, we as a society are guaranteeing that all future generations are able to truly enjoy and experience the beautiful world that we call home, as well as all the magnificent creatures that do the same. 


In this blog, we cover topics on various animals that were saved by zoos; we will expand on whether zoos should exist and how Tanganyika Wildlife Park promotes conservation. 


Examples of Animals Saved From Extinction By Zoos

Since conservation in zoos has played a huge role in saving several animals from extinction, what are some of the animals they have reportedly saved? There is a load of animals that were rescued and cared for. Since we don’t have all day to talk about all the animals saved from extinction by zoos, we will go ahead and really focus on four different animals. 


Today we will focus on the Amur Leopard, Forsten’s Lorikeet, Ring-tailed Lemur, and the Cheetah. All of these fascinating animals can be found at Tanganyika Wildlife Park.

Amur leopard
Amur Leopard
  1. The Amur Leopard

The Amur Leopard is distinguished by its very unique physical appearance. The animal has a magnificent and distinctive coat that is a pale cream color or, in some cases, yellow. Its colorful coat also contains spots all over, making it the perfect layer of camouflage in its natural habitat. The Amur Leopard is essential in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. It does so by controlling prey populations and influencing vegetation dynamics. 


The status of this animal is critically endangered. Like a lot of other animals, the Amur Leopard has fallen victim to animal poaching and loss of its habitat. Thanks to conservation in zoos, there are now around two hundred of these beautiful cats in the world. It will be a long process, but conservation for the animal is only expanding, with the goal to ultimately bring the Amur Leopard back to its own natural habitat. 


  1. Forsten’s Lorikeet

Colorful and vibrant are two adjectives used to perfectly describe Forsten’s Lorikeet. Another name for the lorikeet is Sunset Lorikeet. The Forsten’s Lorikeet can be distinguished by its blue and bright yellow head, along with its green feathers and bright red abdomen. The location of the Forsten’s Lorikeet is typically montane and lowland forests, as well as plantations. This species of parrot is currently listed as endangered around the world. The reason for its endangered status is fragmentation, which is caused by deforestation, illegal pet trade, and the conversion of land for agricultural reasons. 


The Forsten’s Lorikeet, along with other species of lorikeets, plays an important role in the environment by transferring pollen from one plant to another within tropical forests. They aid and contribute to forest regeneration by dropping or excreting seeds they get from their diet, which consists of fruits. Conservation in zoos has saved the Forsten’s Lorikeet from extinction by providing breeding and rehabilitation programs. Providing the general public with the proper engagement and education has also proven to be useful. 


  1. The Ring-tailed Lemur
TWP Lemur
TWP Lemur

Featured in the popular animated movie Madagascar, the Ring-tailed Lemur is an animal full of character and excitement. This is represented in the movie by having the movie character King Julien be a Ring-tailed Lemur. As depicted in the movie, Ring-tailed Lemurs are known for their long black-and-white tails. These quick and agile animals have a body that is usually gray and white faces with black patches found around their eyes. This species of lemur is known for being highly sociable due to being found in large groups of ten to thirty. These groups are known as troops, with female lemurs dominating the social hierarchy. 


Like the animals before, the Ring-tailed Lemur is listed as endangered. Once again, this is caused by fragmentation, hunting, illegal pet trade, and habitat loss due to human activities. Thanks to conservation in zoos, this species of lemur is safe and well-protected. High efforts are being put in motion to protect their remaining homes, combat illegal hunting, and educate the general public about their importance. Ring-tailed lemurs improve the biodiversity of their homeland, and just like lorikeets, they aid in pollination and seed dispersal. 


  1. The Cheetah

Last on the list, we have the fastest land animal in the world, the Cheetah. These cats are capable of reaching speeds of up to seventy miles per hour! They are one of the most well-known animals in the animal kingdom due to not only their speed but their physical appearance. The Cheetah has a slender body with a yellowish-tan coat. Just like the Amur Leopard, they contain black spots all over the body, creating a perfect camouflage. Cheetahs are known to be very solitary animals, unlike other big cats. 


They are carnivores that feed on smaller prey, such as impalas and gazelles. Their role in the environment is to maintain biodiversity and balance. Since they are top predators, they regulate several prey populations and maintain several plant communities. The cause of their endangered status is habitat loss, poaching, and reducing prey populations. Cheetahs are being put into breeding programs, training programs, and proper veterinary care. Thanks to conservation in zoos, Cheetahs have a place to call home away from home. 


The animals covered in this blog are only a small percentage of animals saved from extinction by zoos. Zoos worldwide offer the best care possible to aid these animals. It is up to all of us to make a change for the betterment of these animals and for the betterment of our world. Up next, we will discuss if we should even have zoos. You already know the answer!


Check out this link to join us in our conservation efforts!

Should We Have Zoos? Top Five Reasons Why We Should

After reading the previous sections of this blog, it is no surprise that we say zoos should exist. Hearing about all the animals saved from extinction by zoos pushes us to believe that zoos should be a thing. Despite hearing thousands of success stories, the question still gets brought up, should we have zoos? In this section, we will dive into detail as to why animal conservation in zoos is a good idea. 

  1. One of the biggest reasons people say zoos should not exist is because they keep animals within a particular space. Or that they are being kidnapped from their natural habitat. This, however, is not the case. Many endangered animals have lost their homes due to humans destroying them for personal gain. Zoos offer them a second chance at survival. Zoos keep animals safe from starvation, predators, poaching, or any sort of illegal hunting. This is just one of many reasons why conservation in zoos is so essential. 
  2. Some other ways zoos are saving animals from extinction is by having breeding programs. In the wild, an animal may have trouble finding a mate due to poaching and every other reason mentioned earlier. By helping animals breed, their population will go up, avoiding extinction. By having breeding programs, the biodiversity of the environment will also flourish. 
  3. People argue that animals can get bored or feel out of place while at a zoo. This is not the case. Zoos counteract this argument by doing their best to imitate any animal’s natural habitat and food that comes from said habitat and by providing them with activities and enough space to roam around in. 
  4. One of the biggest ways zoos help to prevent animal extinction is by educating each and every one of us, as to why animals are important to the planet’s survival. Zoos generally attract large numbers of people and for a good reason. People are realizing more and more by the day that animals are here to stay. When people visit a zoo, they tend to develop a personal connection with the animals, thus influencing them to take action. 
  5. Since zoos attract large numbers of people to visit, they are able to contribute to conservation efforts in another way. Revenue that is made by such high attendance numbers and memberships is often allocated to additional conservation efforts all around the world. These funds help with tasks such as restoring an animal’s lost habitat. Tanganyika Wildlife Park partakes in this, leading us to the next section. We will be going over how we specifically contribute to conservation efforts worldwide. 
Should we have zoos
should we have zoos

Conservation in Zoos: How Tanganyika Wildlife Park Plays its Part

So, now that we have gone over several reasons as to why zoos exist and how they made such a big impact, how does Tanganyika Wildlife Park do its part? Here at the park, we take pride in offering the public the best learning experience possible. We do this by offering opportunities for everyone to interact with the animals. After all, we did not become the most interactive zoo in the Midwest for no reason.


By interacting with the animals up close, you develop an even greater personal connection with the animals. Some of the animals you can interact with include swimming with penguins, petting kangaroos, feeding lemurs, feeding rhinos, and feeding giraffes—the list goes on and on. To go alongside these interactive encounters, we offer the best educational experiences by having the most knowledgeable and trained keeps in the Midwest. 


Like other zoos, we have breeding programs as well. The animals at the park are well taken care of from the day they were kids into adulthood. For example, we specifically have a snow leopard program that has seen huge amounts of success. Just to throw it out there, we just had two liters of cheetah cubs be born! All of these animals’ journeys can be found on our social media channels. 


Conservation in zoos is, without a shadow of a doubt, important. Tanganyika Wildlife Park does a lot to help in this regard, and there is just simply too much to go over in just one blog such as this one. We would like you to experience it for yourself. We would like you to see why conservation is so vital in today’s day and age. So come on down and visit Tanganyika Wildlife Park today! We promise you will not regret it! With all of us working together, we are sure to make a change. 


For more info on conservation in zoos and how we make an impact, read our other blog by clicking here.

About the author: Jonathan is a Wichita State University student and a Tanganyika Wildlife Park intern.

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