Are Zoo Animals Released Into Wild

Maria Johnson
• Sunday, 06 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Once Romans routinely tortured and slaughtered lions, leopards, rhinos and even elephants in the Colosseum and bear-baiting was commonplace across Europe until the 19th century. Even a lifetime in the most humane zoo will have left animals too affected by years of sheltered existence.

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Captive animals seldom learn crucial survival skills and often are too habituated to human contact. Lacking a natural fear of humans, they are vulnerable to poachers and ill-equipped for life in the wild.

Young orangutans ready to be released into the wild © International Animal Rescue No case makes this more heartbreaking obvious than the story of Karo, the orca star of Free Willy (1993). A massive letter-writing campaign demanding his freedom led to Karo being flown to Iceland in 1999 for release.

Captured at a very young age and too accustomed to human contact, several attempts to help him join a wild pod failed. He never managed to integrate with a wild population, struggled to hunt, and eventually died of pneumonia in 2002.

“The damage was done when that animal was brought in from the wild in the first place; it is dangerous to assume can could be released without just adding to the misery.” For fish, reptiles, and amphibians, reintroduction can be fairly straightforward: frogs for example can often be bred in huge numbers in the lab and released to the wild.

But with complex mammals such as primates, large cats, elephants, dolphins and whales, who may require years of instruction from their mothers, and an entire group of other members of their species in which they can thrive as adults, reintroduction is far more difficult. First, lions that have been habituated to humans are released into a large enclosure with prey species to hunt.

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Many other groups are challenging old notions and working to develop new techniques tailored to the needs to different species to achieve what was once thought impossible, such as the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust, Wildlife Vets International, and Born Free. “Even chimpanzees that have lived in laboratories for many years can do pretty well when released in groups onto protected islands,” says Dr Draper.

“The dream is to never say never, but the reality of the world we live in means that even if the animal is physically capable of doing this, finding suitable release sites is extremely challenging,” says Dr Draper. For some animals, reintroduction will always be difficult, such as baby elephants, or pet cheetahs, both of which habituate to human care very quickly, says Moore of IFA.

ISLAMABAD: Zoo animals have not adapted to survive against predators, compete for food against other members of the same species or combat the weather and diseases on their own, a wildlife expert has said. He also set up Jungle Kingdom in AFUB Park with another committee member, Rashid Khadija, and has published a book on wildlife.

“In the past 30 to 40 years or so the zoo has been atrociously mismanaged in turn by the CDA, the Islamabad Municipal Corporation and recently, the ministry and its affiliate agency,” he said, adding that the solution is to involve citizens with knowledge of captive wildlife management. He said that this team could form an NGO for this purpose, and the government would have to bear the expenses of revamping the zoo while the organization would be responsible for raising funds for its operational costs through entry tickets, events, corporate sponsorships and other donations.

“The whole purpose of a zoo today should be to support wildlife conservation, through public education and to carry out scientific captive breeding of endangered species,” he said. Such ancient collections were not held for exhibition in public parks or maintained for purposes of education and recreation.

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After the conquest of Dacia, Emperor Trajan held 123 days of games in celebration, during which thousands of animals were slaughtered, including elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, bulls, hippopotamus and stags. In 1898, the reason was cited by the New York Zoological Society when it resolved to inform the public of the continued decline in animal populations, to stimulate sentiment in favor of animal protection, and to cooperate with scientific organizations to ensure the preservation of species.

Modern zoos play a critical role in the education of children and families about the various animals found on our planet. Zoos also partner with local communities to extend the knowledge of animals and conservation to a wider audience.

Placing such animals in zoos, especially those hunted and poached, provides them with a safe environment where the species can thrive. With the dangers of climate change fast approaching, such measures are proving extremely important for the conservation of species.

Recently Australia has had to face an unprecedented wave of bush fires that have been blamed on climate change. The fires have destroyed vast areas of habitat and killed millions of animals, including Kangaroos, koalas, and other species unique to the continent.

It is, therefore, essential to have animals in zoos and other areas where they can be accorded extra protection from such unpredictable events. Extensive breeding programs at the zoo and reintroduction into wild habitats helped in saving the species from extinction.

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(Source: zsl.org)

Other animals that have been preserved in protected areas such as zoos include the Golden Lion Tamarin, Arabian Onyx, Freshwater mussels, and the Puerto Rican Parrot. In addition to providing residence to animals, zoos create jobs and tourism opportunities that generate revenue for the local community.

Today zoos are staffed with highly trained personnel having specialized knowledge on the animals they are tasked to care for. Many zoos also have veterinarians, pathologists, and technicians who can provide specialized care to animals, including parasite removal and other forms of treatment.

Zoo personnel are also aware of the physical and dietary requirements that each species needs to maintain them in a healthy state. Activities do not adequately replace migration and hunting requirements for animals, but they do eliminate deterioration and boredom at the zoo.

Zoos support scientific research by allowing scientists easy access to specimens or species under study. Such studies create models that help improve zoo conditions so that animals can live longer, breed more successfully, and be happier.

Many zoos currently work in collaboration with universities that research the facilities and train professionals such as veterinarians who can then help care for animals. Taking an animal from its natural habitat for the sole reason of human entertainment raises several moral and ethical issues.

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Once they were rescued, they were found to be suffering from malnutrition, kidney, and cardiac problems, as well as trauma from living in a war zone. Due to a lack of activity, the elephant's feet began to deteriorate to a point where it became difficult for her to walk.

Zoos that practice breeding programs face challenges when reintroducing animals back into the wild. Restriction of some animals such as elephants adversely affects their migratory instincts leading to aggressive behavior.

Some zoos continuously breed animals to get newborns to keep visitors coming and revenue streams flowing. In addition to raising ethical and moral questions on such breeding, frequent births lead to overpopulation in a zoo with limited space.

They're not sick, they're neither elder nor juvenile and all seem to have pretty good genes in general (fertility, longevity)... Has anybody else had this problem? Lesley Stahl reports on Damian Spinal's contempt for zoos and his project to release a family of captive gorillas into an African forest.

Spinal grew up playing with animals like gorillas and tigers that were kept on his family's country estate. But he has become disenchanted with the idea of keeping such animals simply for the pleasure of humans and is now on a mission to release them into the wild.

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He dismisses the notion that zoos are ambassadors for animal protection and educators that encourage conservation in the wild. Spinal, who owns Aspens, the U.K. casino chain, has bred thousands of wild and endangered animals on the grounds, before he began to finance expeditions around the world to release them.

Damian and his crew built a small “bridge to freedom” allowing the gorillas to cross into the unprotected wild. So you have to monitor the breeding of your species, and if there are too many, swap certain individuals with another zoo, to introduce new genes.

Releasing animals to the wild is a feature that has already been talked about a lot in this game and seems to be very popular with the fan base. I personally hate that this feature has become a major part of zoo type games.

I find this gameplay component highly irresponsible, especially when one of Frontier's purported goals of this game is education. We seem to have a very large number of people thinking that zoos breed animals and then release the excess offspring back into the wild “to save the species”.

Very rarely do captive bred animals get released back into the wild, and these are almost never the large iconic mammal species that people think of. Most captive release programs have been with animals that rely predominantly on inborn instincts with little to no parental care.

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There have been a few high profile successes with bird species e.g. the California condor and whooping crane. The whooping cranes for example were raised in strict isolation to avoid imprinting on people and had to be trained on their migration path with custom-made aircraft.

These programs require millions of dollars, government permitting, and preservation of wildlife habitat. It is cost prohibitive and ludicrous to imagine that North American zoos are going to ship African elephants back overseas for release.

I figure that releasing animals “in the wild would be more like donating them to a breeding program, or (with endangered species) adding them to populations that reside in conservation centers, to be released once sufficiently acclimated to living in the wild.

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