1) We breed for conservation...
For species that have become highly threatened in their native habitat it may be necessary to bring some individuals into captivity.
These are called back up or safety net populations meaning that if the species were to become extinct in the wild, the species would still exist in zoos.
It may be appropriate to build captive breeding facilities in the specie's home range where all environmental parameters are exact and naturally controlled. There are instances however wen this is not feasible. Disease is the main threat that makes this impossible. If the species population only exists in one place, it is highly susceptible to disease. Amphibians are a prime example of this.
2) We increase knowledge & understanding and offer perspective...
Zoos continually carry out research, using their captive populations as a nucleus for such research.
Many of the species we house successfully today have been included in research projects, which has enabled us to advance their care, husbandry and welfare rapidly - both in captivity and in the wild. In situations where a species is so highly threatened that we cannot afford to make mistakes with husbandry we can look at close relatives and how we apply husbandry to these. Of course, zoos work in collaboration with each other - so we are able to increase our knowledge through communication. We are also in a prime position to be able to educate our visitors about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.
3) We develop and share skills, nationally and internationally...
Our staff are incredibly skilled at their job, and a lot goes on behind the scenes to make sure our animals are healthy - both physically and mentally. Our animals staff record data, carry out veterinary procedures, clean, feed, prepare diets, care for animals in all stage of life and know how to do this in particular ways. These practices can all lend themselves to applications that would be appropriate in our species' home ranges should this occur.
Keepers regularly travel overseas to our animals' native countries as well as to international and national conferences for dedicated zoo and conservation professionals.