New study shows positive effect of ex situ conservation efforts
Zoos aim at constantly improving husbandry and reproductive success. These aims are often difficult to assess. A new study analysed 166,901 animals representing 78 ruminant species kept in 850 facilities all over the world and identified three patterns – higher life expectancies are achieved in a) females of grazers (as opposed to browsers), indicating the challenge of providing browsers with adequate food, b) males of monogamous species, suggesting intrinsic physiological stress in males adapted to defend harems even if not kept with competing males, and c) species that are managed by international studbooks, indicating a positive effect of ex situ conservation efforts.
International studbooks are kept under the auspices of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), which also facilitated and partly funded this new study. Studbooks are repositories of pedigree data on animals kept in human care. Currently, there are 121 international studbooks for 159 species or sub-species. WAZA is the unifying organisation for the world zoo and aquarium community. Its more than 300 members include leading zoos and aquariums, regional and national associations of zoos and aquariums, as well as some affiliate organisations from around the world. Together, they are "United for Conservation".