With the abandonment of the so-called ‘ark paradigm’ (Bowkett 2009), the zoo and aquarium world has assumed a more politically correct role in the environmental arena and urbanised western societies but, paradoxically, seems to distance itself from the unique role it naturally has as an ex situ genetic bank. The selection of species by zoos is becoming freer from immediate conservation concerns (i.e. IUCN red list status), authorising de facto a broad number of considerations in collections planning. The fact that zoos globally house circa 15% of threatened tetrapods only (Conde et al. 2011) is also due to the current
emphasis on in situ conservation and feasibility of short-term reintroductions (Balmford et al. 1996). Gippoliti and Amori (2007a) called for a this website more long-term and geographically broader approach to establish ex situ priorities, considering conservation status at global level and phylogenetic distinctiveness. Even for existing coordinated breeding programmes, demographic analyses have evidenced severe problems in assuring
long-term viability for a large percentage of them (Kaumanns et al. 2000; Backer 2007; Lees and Wilken 2009). Calls for more investment in breeding facilities has been made, otherwise zoos will be not able to maintain viable populations for both exhibition and conservation (Conway 2007; Vince find more 2008). The recent collapse of vulture populations in India (Green et al. 2004) highlights how captive populations
of SNS-032 relatively common species can suddenly become precious from a conservation point of view. Zoos have limited resources, and they cannot hope to comply with all their tasks without external help. On the other hand, and despite the growing importance of environmental issues in political agenda, biodiversity loss continues unabated, and the number of taxa in need of serious ex situ programmes increases (i.e. Roflumilast Mitu mitu, Silveira et al. 2004) while for others it is already too late (i.e. the baiji Lipotes vexillifer, Turvey et al. 2007). The recent extinction in the wild of the northern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simus cottoni could represent greater loss if the recent proposal for raising it to species level is accepted (Groves et al. 2010). Taxonomic revisions is one factor possibly rendering still greater the threat status of biodiversity globally (Gippoliti and Amori 2007b). It is argued that zoos and aquaria should not gave up their ‘ark’ role while environmental deterioration proceeds at an alarming rate (Conway 2011).