The article that I chose to research was from the March 2001 issue of Discover magazine. The article titled Wild Cats in Carolina by Barry Yeoman focuses on the breeding practices of endangered animals. Some of the animals housed at the Carnivore Preservation Trust are not endangered but are still being bred as if they were so their numbers can increase. The main focus of this article is the debate between the Carnivore Preservation Trust and the conservative zoo world on the issue of the breeding practices of these animals and if it effects their reintroduction into the wild.
The article debates back and forth between the trust on one side and the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center along with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association on the other side. They argue over whether or not the trust is actually helping these species of animals by the way that they are raising them. The reservation trust houses different animals such as binturongs, ocelots, and caracals. With these animals they are breeding them so their population can flourish and be reintroduced into the wild. The problem is that the trust is not doing this in the manner that the other associations would like them to do.
The trust is hand rearing these animals and taking them away from there mothers after about two weeks and Dave Wildt of the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center does not agree with these practices (Discover). His reasons are that the trust is creating genetic junk or hybrid animals whose descendants can never be reintroduced into the wild (Yeoman, Discover).
The trust says that their hand rearing practices reduces the amount of stress therefor relaxing the animal and causing them to breed successfully. The Michael Hutchins of the one of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association opposes this method because they like to keep their animals with their mother. They say that if raised by humans then it causes the animals to become confused about their identity and develop a sociosexual attachement to the species that hand reared them (Yeoman, Discover).
It is recognized that some animals need to be hand reared but to do so to a whole species of animals for reintroduction is not ethical. Most would agree that trying to breed animals in captivity is difficult but that animal reintroduction is even more difficult (Earth Explorer). If the trust is not having difficulties with breeding practices then why is there a problem with it. One way that the trust and the conservative zoo community could be try certain captivity practices to increase success rate. One according to Earth Explorer is that animals raised in captivity could learn skills for surviving in ht ewild like climbing trees, foraging for food, and avoiding predators.
One program at the Zoological Tank in San Diego, California is the Frozen Zoo (Johnson, The Futurist). They take ovum and semen samples from animals and freeze then and that allows the genetic material for the animal to be available. This is another method that could be used as a backup for the trust.
The trust and the conservative
zoo community should find ways to compromise on breeding practices.
If they could agree on some issues then they may hold the key to effective
breeding and reintroduction of animals into the wild. If the trust
is not violating any moral or ethical issues when it comes to there practices
then they should be able to continue with their practices unless it is
Earth Explorer. Reintroduction Into the Wild. Feb. 01, 1995. http://www.elibrary.com/education
Johnson, Dan. The Futurist. The Frozen Zoo. Aug. 01, 1995. http://www.elibrary.com/education
Yeoman, Barry. Wild Cats in Carolina.