Policy ForumConservation

An Emerging Role of Zoos to Conserve Biodiversity

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Science  18 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6023, pp. 1390-1391
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200674

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At the October 2010 meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, delegates discussed a plan to reduce pressures on the planet's biodiversity. Key targets include expanding coverage of protected areas, halving the rate of loss of natural habitats, and preventing extinction of threatened species (1). For species whose habitat is severely threatened, however, the outlook is so bleak that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the CBD (Article 9) recognize that in situ conservation actions (i.e., in the species' natural habitat) will need to be combined with ex situ approaches, such as captive breeding in zoos, aquariums, and so on (2, 3).