ex situ


In case you’ve ever wondered what zoos do for reptile conservation, the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans has a fantastic breeding project going on. A large chunk of their reptile house is dedicated to the Louisiana pine snake. These cages are simple, and they all have two snakes in them right now- because it’s breeding season. See, the Louisiana pine snake is one of the rarest snakes in North America. It is extremely threatened by habitat loss and development, and so it has a Species Survival Plan in place to help protect it as a species.

See those enclosures? Each of those is a temporary home for a snake not on exhibit. Each of those represents a healthy adult who could potentially breed. Each of those cages houses precious genetic information. The captive population of Louisiana pine snakes is low- it started with less than 100 individuals- and only four zoos have gotten them to successfully breed, the Audubon Zoo being one of them. Females only lay three to five eggs per year, and so every potential baby snake is important. If you look at the first picture up top, you’ll see some of the things the zoo records about each snake. They note where the snake came from, how they were hatched, how old they are, and the locality. This helps ensure that the gene pool is as diverse as possible. 

But this isn’t just ex situ conservation! Several hatchlings are released each year into a protected habitat. The zoos’ collective goal is to establish a self-sustaining population in a restored habitat where the species has been long extirpated. Eventually, the pine forests of Louisiana might see this beautiful snake slithering around- which wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for captive breeding efforts! 


“in situ” Latince bir deyiştir ve “yerinde” anlamına gelir. Bilimsel olarak bir olgunun ya da maddenin özgün olarak bulunduğu-işlev gördüğü yerde incelenmesini anlatır.

Arkeolojide bir buluntunun, gündelik yaşamda kullanıldığı yerde ele geçmesi “in situ vaziyette” olarak tanımlanır. Böyle bir buluntu ait olduğu kültüre ait eşsiz bilgiler verir. In situ buluntular kullanıldığı yerde zarar görmeden günümüze kadar gelebilmiş objelerdir.

Arkeolojik buluntuların oldukları yerden başka bir mekana taşınması ise “ex-situ” olarak adlandırılır.

Conservation (cont)

In situ = conservation in natural environment of organism

  • protected areas, national parks, nature reserves
  • protecting habitats
  • restoring damaged areas
  • promoting particular species
  • legal protection of endangered species
  • difficult to control threatening factors of a species

Ex situ = conservation outside natural environment

  • relocation of organisms to safer areas
  • breeding in captivity and reintroducing to wild when organism is strong enough
  • botanic gardens
  • seed banks
  • zoos
  • difficult and expensive to create right environment
  • species might not be able to breed successfully in captivity in new environment

CITES (Conservation on International Trade on Endangered Species):

  • regulating trade in wild animal and plant specimens
  • member countries have made it illegal to kill endangered species
  • conserves species by limiting trade through licensing

Rio Convention on Biodiversity:

  • aims to develop international strategies on conservation of biodiversity
  • provide guidance to governments on hot to conserve biodiversity

EIA (Environmental impact Assessments):

  • assessment of impact a development project might have on environment [e.g. new shopping centre or power station]
  • identifies ways biodiversity could be conserved

souljudge  asked:

Hey lady helix, what do you think about zoos? A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my mom's BF and he told me that zoos are the most horrible places on Earth because reasons. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks!

Whilst it is true that certainly in the past, and in rar§ occasions today, zoos can be very poor in regards to animal welfare, if you ask anyone even remotely trained in zoology, ecology, genetics etc. they will answer that modern zoos are invaluable in terms of animal conservation. The majority of modern zoos act as genetic suppositories for many species that range from threatened to critically endangered, to even extinct in the wild, with the goal of building up populations enough so that an end game of reintroduction into the wild can be achieved. For example, without zoos and ex situ breeding, Californian Condors, Arabian Oryxes, and many other species woule be totally extinct, but now have successful reintroduced wild populations.

The breeding of endangered animals is an internationally coordinated process in which the roles of individual animals, and individual zoos are taken into account on both a regional and global scale. The majority of zoos work together, as one big unit. The mantra of most modern zoos, is that their primary purpose is for the conservation of endangered species, and for research, education and raising awareness. Zoos as an establishment of entertainment is only a secondary aspect nowadays, with the main benefit being the funding that the public provides (whilst sneakily raising awareness of conservation issues and the wonders of the natural world to the public, however an issue is arising when non endangered animals, but publicly popular, such as giraffes,  take up space in zoos instead of endangered animals? A balance must be struck, as the public is a vital source of income ).

The treatment of animals in zoos has changed drastically over the years, and is still changing, all for the better. There is a huge focus on encouraging as much natural animal behaviour as possible, and keeping any contact with zookeepers etc. to a minimal, i.e. really moving away from any invasive techniques. Providing enriched and complex habitats is key, and ensuring that animals can be both physically and intellectually stimulated is a very important aspect of modern pen design.  

For example, we were at Dublin zoo today, which is actually one of the forerunning zoos in Europe for such techniques described above. I’ll briefly talk about the indian elephant enclosure, which is absolutely brilliant in terms of the elephants welfare.  First of all the pen is huge and dynamic, with plenty of enclosed areas should the elephant’s want privacy. There are pools deep enough to swim in, and the entire enclosure is surrounded by lush, tall vegetation of many varieties. The entire enclosure is floored with at least two metres of sand (even the sand is special, all the grains are rounded) as hard substrate such as concrete is very bad for their feet and joints, and elephants wont lie down on concrete, meaning that they are forced to sleep standing otherwise. The sand is often rinsed through but rarely needs to be replaced or cleaned, as fecal material etc. is broken down naturally as it percolates. Bottom layers of sand are regularly examined, and are most often found to be clean, and free of build ups of bacteria etc. Within the elephant house where the herd sleeps, the sand is moved around every day, and shaped into mounds, which act as kind of body pillows for the elephants to sleep on, though they can dig up and shape their own too if they like. Changing it every day provides a dynamic aspect, and also helps aerate it to keep it clean. Food is given in a variety of methods and varies widely itself. Puzzles are built into the house walls, and food can also be hung from tree like pillars at varying lengths in the pen to encourage natural browsing behaviour. Their sleep patterns were monitored so that food is never provided during major sleep cycles, so that interruption is kept to a minimum The fact that the elephants are kept in a herd is also vital. Elephants are social, and matriarchal animals, so having a groups of closeley related females, many of which grew up together has inumerable benefits in terms of natural social skills, bonds and behaviour. The single bull elephant has it’s own house to sleep in, but is allowed into the cow elephant’s house when they are in heat to encourage natural breeding behaviour, which has indeed worked, as many calfs have been born in the zoo over the past years, and some of the females are even pregnant now. Interaction with keepers is kept to a minimum also. Food can be dispensed in the puzzles etc. automatically by a computer, and at various times too so that the elephants don’t get used a schedule. When the elephants give birth, the keepers don’t get involved at all, as it is already stressful for the herd and the mother. The birth is watched intensively on cameras just incase, but the elephants have enough natural instinct to sort it out themselves, and the keepers have never had to be involved. The elephants are trained however (using positive reinforcement techniques) to be used to the keepers for certain situations, for example when blood needs to be taken, or medicinal suppositories given (or even pedicures!!) but by training them in a very calm and relaxed way, these procedures can be carried out with ease, and trust can be retained,  whereas in the past, animals would have had to have been tranquilised - very stressful for the animal, and dangerous too.

Anyway I am blabbing on at this stage, but you get the point. Of course in the past Zoos have been bad, purely for human entertainment, and of course there are still issues with zoos today, but those issues are dwindling, relatively speaking. Another point is that yes, the animal’s natural habitat will always be better, but often today, the case is that the wild has either become too dangerous, or degraded, and the benefits of captive breeding, as well as raising public awareness about conservation are too great. Thus a compromise must be met, and modern zoos are coming up with loads and loads of new and innovative ways to provide the best possible captive habitat for the animals they hold. If course there is still much work to be done, but I, and most others in my field are 100% behind Zoos, when done well, and are certainly not the most horrible places on earth! (especially when compared to, cough, seaworld, which is an entirely different story, that is purely for human entertainment and it is incredibly cruel to keep cetaceans captive, a major point being that they cant display natural social, physcal and intellectual behaviour and ugh its just rotten)

TL;DR - Zoos are invaluable for conservation and animal welfare is a vital aspect of most modern zoos, so they are A-OK in my book :)

anonymous asked:

Would you say that the Sea Life Centre in the UK is as bad/similar to SeaWorld in the US?

No, absolutely not. No-where near.

For one thing, SeaLife Centres don’t keep cetaceans. Due to rigorous laws in the UK it’s now practically impossible to keep cetaceans in captivity here. So no SeaLife Centre will have dolphins, porpoises or whales. So far as I can see, none of the international SeaLife centres keep cetaceans either.

Only one UK centre that I can think of has seals, and that’s because they have a rescue sanctuary affiliated with the centre. There are I think 4 seals who are permanent residents (for reasons such as health, lack of survival skills, tameness etc) but all the others are temporary residents that are just being kept until they’re well enough to be released.

Secondly, there are no shows or performances. The closest you’ll get is possibly feeding times with certain animals (such as penguins or seals if the centre has them). What those “shows” entail are the keepers feeding the animals while giving a talk. Animals are not forced to do tricks or perform behaviours for their food - they’re just fed as they normally would be.

They also have a big conservation focus. They have a registered charity with campaigns against whaling, shark finning, unsustainable fishing, and marine pollution. As mentioned above, one of their centres has a seal sanctuary which does actively rescue and release seals. I believe they also aid with ex-situ conservation efforts with their corals and seahorses. As far as I can see through some quick research, they’re a reliable charity.

Our SeaLife Centres are aquariums, not “marine parks”. They show almost exclusively fish, jellyfish, corals, sharks and turtles. All animals have large enclosures well suited for their needs. There are no ‘bare tanks’ - to my memory, all tanks have rocks and marine plants and other things to simulate a natural environment. Animals do not participate in shows. I’ve never seen an animal in a SeaLife centre seeming to show stress through repetitive behaviours like the animals at SeaWorld.

Overall, no. I don’t believe SeaLife Centres are anything even close to how disgusting SeaWorld is. From what I’ve seen and what I can research, SeaLife is a reliable and trustworthy centre and charity.