Building the Ark

September 24, 2013

With an extinction crisis looming, reporter Elizabeth Kolbert writes for National Geographic on the importance of, conservation efforts by zoos—modern-day arks to protect the world’s biodiversity.

As more and more of the world’s animals face extinction, the role of zoos to help save endangered species grows. From early on, zoos have had a hand in conservation, providing space and resources for captive-breeding efforts. Among the animals that have benefitted from these programs are the Arabian oryx, the black-footed ferret, the red wolf, the Guam rail, and the California condor.

These programs are successful, but also expensive, and soon zoos may have to consider whether to allocate so many resources towards popular big animals or a few smaller species that need less space. The latter group may not bring as many zoo-goers but among it are the world’s most threatened group of animals: amphibians.

Many zoos, including the Bronx Zoo, are working to breed various frog, toad, and salamander species at risk of extinction. Conservation of these animals is more manageable for smaller zoos that lack the space for rhinos or buffalo, but can help protect the world’s biodiversity nonetheless.

Read Elizabeth Kolbert’s article on National Geographic>>