What zoos do

I am more and more impressed with the mission of the local zoos to act as refuges for species that face extirpation in their native habitats, while providing educational information as well as entertainment.

hyacinth macaw at MN Zoo

This looks a lot like “Blu” from the movie Rio, but Blu was a Spix’s Macaw which is possibly extinct in the wild, and only exists in captivity (zoos and the like). This Hyacinth Macaw has become a popular part of the bird show at the Minnesota Zoo, which gives handlers an opportunity to explain how zoos assist in the conservation of endangered parrots.

hyacinth macaw at the bird show at the MN Zoo

Nothing impresses the kids quite as much as birds flying overhead into the bird show at the MN Zoo

amur leopard at the MN Zoo

The Amur Leopard faces extinction in its native northeastern Asia because of habitat loss and human population expansion.

Clear glass exhibits like these at the MN Zoo help kids get "up close and personal" with these charismatic and threatened species.

Clear glass exhibits like these at the MN Zoo help kids get “up close and personal” with these charismatic and threatened species.

moose calves at the MN Zoo

Several pairs of orphaned moose calves have been adopted and raised at the MN zoo this year.  A warming climate combined with exposure to cattle and deer diseases has reduced the adult moose population substantially in Minnesota over the past decade.

moose calf

These youngsters are probably too tame to be released to the wild, but could be used in a captive breeding program for reintroduction of moose to their native habitat in future years.

Dhole-asian-wild-dog at the MN Zoo

Native to southeastern Asia in a wide variety of forest to scrub habitats, the Asian wild dog (Dhole) is an intelligent carnivore that hunts in packs. Their status is listed as endangered but with shrinking habitat and exposure to dog and cat diseases, they are vulnerable to extinction.

kids on a model of a Dhole dog

The grandkids thought riding a Dhole wild dog would be fun.

6 thoughts on “What zoos do

    • I used to docent at a zoo and interestingly one of the keepers there, despite loving his charges and his work, said despairingly one day that perhaps there was no point to continuing to maintain captive specimens if there was no habitat to release them to; I don’t think he truly meant it, I think he was expressing a deep dismay at events of the day (it was the early 90s and during a big spate of elephant poaching…sadly, which we’re right back in the midst of again). And while I agree that the wild is better for animals, wow, lemme tell you…we should all live as well as the animals in the best zoos 😉 Electrically heated rocks for the lions!

      • That’s interesting. Yes, I feel conflicted over zoo animals, but now that I have grandkids that absolute adore the exotic species, it’s such a pleasure to take them to the zoo for the oo and aha factor. I would find it hard to be a zoo animal handler, despite their luxurious, spacious facilities. It’s all about the wild factor for me.

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