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Protecting the animals

27-01-2010, 0 comments, By : Nancy Ross

What can we do to protect vanishing species of animals?Once considered as nothing more than amusement parks, zoos around the world have now become havens of protection for animals at risk. For years now, the zoos’ managers, with the help of members of the scientific community, have undertaken to convert zoos into huge sites for the conservation of the most threatened species from around the world. Often, the work performed by the zoos represents one of the only possible alternatives to outright extinction. Their programs include increasing the birth rate so that their pool of animals is sufficiently large to ensure the long-term survival of a species.The animals are classified in what are known as stud books, books that trace a species’ genealogy and help preserve its genetic markers. This data helps track the evolution of a particular species, the number of individuals it encompasses and the experiments of reintroduction its members were involved in.In Canada, several animals that have been declared at risk have benefited from such breeding programs. The Vancouver Island Marmot, with a population estimated at only 30 individuals living in the wild, is one of the most threatened species in Canada.Twenty of these marmots have been born and successfully bred in the Toronto and Calgary zoos. Since 1983, the Calgary Zoo has been working on reintroducing the swift fox. By the year 2000, the population of swift fox had increased by 300% in Canada. Although these breeding programs help save species at risk, the best way to protect them is still to preserve their home range and to minimize the impact of human activity on their environment. That’s why programs to reintroduce vanishing species or those at risk go hand in hand with educational programs about habitat protection and the creation of nature reserves that will give them shelter and ensure their survival.

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