This may be true, especially for people who do not pay a lot of attention to how endangered a species is in the wild. If someone is to see a report on the TV or Internet that an animal was successfully bred in captivity, they may figure the animal has been saved; now we can breed more of them and the species will recover.
However, there are many factors. Often a breeding event is difficult to repeat. Even if animals are bred it captivity, they may not be able to be released because of habitat destruction or because they are not adapted to life in the wild.
We should use caution when announcing a captive-breeding success and be sure to put it in prespective to how the species is doing in the wild and what the birth actually means for the survival of the species.
I definitely think so. If people go to a zoo and see animals that are endangered or close to being endangered, they might develop a false sense of what is really happening in the wild. Zoos or animal exhibits should make it explicitly clear if they have animals that are endangered or low in numbers. It would also be helpful if all zoos had conservation information — I know some do, but not all. The placid atmosphere of a zoo does not reflect the harsh reality of the wild. The wild cousins of the animals seen in zoos face natural predators, poachers, and the encroachment of human society.
In China, captive-bred tigers are mostly used for consumption in traditional medicines, with little regard to conservation efforts. This may encourage poaching for competition in Tiger Trade markets. With tigers being bred for consumption, it is necessary to think that the Chinese public may not be fully informed on the condition of the wild tiger species, thus hindering conservation efforts.
I work for a zoo. Our entire mission revolves around conservation of endangered species. We breed a variety of animals and have had many successes that have led to increased populations. For example, the western pond turtle project has meant the protection and release of over 1,000 turtles back into the wild, as well as the introduction of 30 captive-bred babies. This is just one small-scale example of what such projects can lead to.
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