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Letter: Misleading on zoos

SHARE Letter: Misleading on zoos

The American Humane Association’s defense of zoos (“The moral case for zoos and aquariums,” Feb. 2) is grossly misleading. Examples of zoos helping species through breeding and reintroduction are not “countless.” Of 167 attempts to reintroduce captive-bred animals to the wild, fewer than 10 percent have succeeded. And the vast majority of animals in zoos are bred with full knowledge that there will never even be an attempt to release them to the wild. Given the extremely limited success of captive-breeding programs, experts emphasize species and habitat preservation in the wild. Instead, zoos direct inordinate resources on confining animals.

According to one study, it costs 50 times as much to keep African elephants and black rhinos in zoos than to manage and protect the same number of animals in the wild. An analysis of American zoos' spending on conservation found that the average zoo spent only 0.1 percent of its budget on conservation. Nor is there much support for the assertion that zoos “help protect wild animals as centers of public education.” Study after study shows that captive animal displays have no conservation education value — and can even undermine conservation efforts.

Delcianna J. Winders

Cambridge, Massachusetts