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Conservation must become the primary function of modern zoos and aquariums, according to university research

The work carried out suggests that zoos and aquariums should focus on conservation, research and environmental education.

24 | 05 | 2023

Researchers from the Institute of Biodiversity and Environment of the University of Navarra have conducted research published in the international journal Annual Review of Animal Biosciencesin which they suggest that modern zoos and aquariums have the opportunity to focus their efforts on animal conservation, which could benefit animal-related research and the environmental education of the public.

For Rafael Miranda, one of the researchers of this work, these facilities must be aligned with global challenges in animal conservation, while at the same time offering entertainment for visitors and ensuring animal welfare. "We have to address a global problem that is the loss of biodiversity and both the administration, NGOs, scientists, citizens, as well as zoos and aquariums have an opportunity to contribute positively in this regard."  

This research has reviewed the historical evolution of the functions that zoos have acquired, from the exhibition of specimens and entertainment to conservation and environmental awareness.  

One of the issues addressed in this research is that zoos and aquariums have given priority to charismatic species, housing mainly large birds, mammals and exotic species, as they are the main attraction for visitors.

"Zoos have played a crucial role in the conservation of some endangered species thanks to their involvement in the reintroduction of species, maintenance of populations and investment of resources," notes Professor Miranda.

For these researchers, the future of modern zoos and aquariums will depend on their ability to adapt to the social and environmental needs of the future.

Bibliographic reference

Miranda, R.; Escribano, N.; Casas, M.; Pino-del-Carpio, A.; Villarroya, A. (2023). The Role of Zoos and Aquariums in a Changing World. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences, 11:1, 287-306.