Importance of Captive Breeding
The mammals are a group of animals that are able to regulate their temperatures internally unlike reptiles and birds. These animals have hair that helps them to regulate the temperatures (Woodruff, 2011). It is a group that comprises some of the largest animals in the world. They have features such as mammary glands that secrete milk for the young ones to feed on and they have three ear bones. Their brain is essential in the process of body temperature regulation as well as in the heart chambers blood circulatory. This category comprises both the two legged and four legged animals. Some of them are adapted to live in the sea whereas others in the dry land and others in the air (Olney, Mace, & Feistner, 1994).
Captive breeding refers to the action of breeding specific animals in a controlled well-established place. It comprises places like zoos, wildlife parks and other known conservation facilities. Captive breeding is important for endangered species that need to be taken care of. It is also a place to keep animals till the wild or their natural habitat is secure for their survival or the danger they experience is reduced. Captive breeding also creates good environment for scientists as they breed animals and do a thorough research at the same time. Different captive breeding points work closely together. These have helped to identify compatible mates for the animals, especially those that are threatened with extinction. Animals are usually transported to their mates and are taken care of. This increases their breeding and saves them from extinction. Captive breeding has helped to deal with the issue of poaching and protect wild animals.
The goal of the captive breeding programs is to secure the lives of existing animal population and help to get a large number of animals to be reintroduced to their natural habitat, balance the natural survival and prevent them from extinction. Mammologist is the person who studies mammals (Kleiman, Thompson, & Baer, 2010). These scientists study the structure of mammals, their function, evolution, their taxonomy and their management. Well-established zoos give mammologist an opportunity to interact with mammals and they have much time to conduct their research on other mammals (Bertorelle, 2009). In the zoos, they get access to the animals and can get the required information easily (Woodruff, 2011). They also monitor the mammals and are able to identify any changes of their behaviors easily. They are also able to conduct practical experiments with the animals and observe the results (Olney, Mace, & Feistner, 1994). Well-established zoos have greatly increased the conservation measures since these measures were proposed by the mammologists; they are applied to animals before they are released to wild animals. Big zoos also have the capacity to keep different types of mammals in large numbers. The specialist has an opportunity to deal with different types of mammals and conduct research to them separately.
Well-established zoos provide the animals with better conditions in terms of space and adaptations than they get in the wild, hence, the way the animals behave at the zoos will be the same they behave in the world, thus the mammologists are able to learn about the animals.
Despite the fact that captive breeding is so influential in helping animals it faces some challenges.
Change of behavior
The animals being bred in captivity portray some changes in their behaviors; as they were given prepared food their hunting skills were killed. They are no longer able to hunt for their survival and many released animals end up dying due to hunger and starvation. These are because they were not given the chance to learn to hunt when they were young (Higham & Lück, 2008). Some lack climbing skills, others the skills to camouflage for survival and others end up being killed. Captive breeding has come up with the decision to curb these issues by trying to train the animals when they are young but there is a number of constraints.
Loss of habitat
When the animals are captured to be bred they are taken away from their usual places. When they are re-introduced to the environment later they witness some changes in their habitats and they may also get their places occupied by another animal. It becomes difficult for them to find another place to be their habitat (Olney, Mace, & Feistner, 1994).
Most animals bred in captivity are those that are on the verge of being extinct. They are the endangered species; hence the remaining animals are the only ones that are used to breed (Mau, 2004). The process of inbreeding closely related animals through mating results in offspring that are not viable and have decreased immunity or some abnormalities.
In order to re-introduce the animals to their natural habitat the captive breeding programs consider the following.
It ensures that there are a sufficient number of animals that will be able to withstand natural occurrence of deaths and births. They ensure that the animals that are re-introduced are mature enough to mate and give viable offspring. The animals should also be able to counter attacks of other animals as they strive for survival when trying to adapt to their new environment. Also it should be taken into consideration that the animals that are released are closest match of the genotype of the animals that are in the environment they are to be allocated to.
Before the re-introduction, the program conducts a comprehensive research on the animal’s habitat. They identify the natural food the animals used to get, the dangers they experienced in their habitants, the survival tactics they used, the diseases they got in these places, how they used to group and how these animals group themselves, they learn how the animals behave in the wild. These help the program to prepare the animals adequately so that they will be able to adapt to the wild when they are released. These make it easier for the animals to integrate with other animals in the wild and minimize the risk of animal dying (Bertorelle, 2009).
They are also able to understand the number the environment can comprise. Every environment has a particular number that it can sustain. These animals get enough food, have adequate space and their lives are safe there. A good research is conducted on how wild animals control the area and whether animals bred in captivity can be able to survive there. They also balanced the sexes of the animals to enable breeding (Higham & Lück, 2008).
The animals that are going to be reintroduced receive close veterinary assessment and are vaccinated before being taken to the wild. These prevent the animals from being infected with diseases in their new habitat (Kleiman, Thompson, & Baer, 2010). They are also secure from contagious disease that might come from the animals they meet in the new area. The environment that they are put into is also assessed and the program is aware of any danger the environment can pose to the animals and thus they are adequately prepared.
Although captive breeding has had some negative impacts it has also impacted on the animals positively.
Some of the positive impacts it has on the animals are:
- Population monitoring. Captive breeding is able to monitor the population of animals in a given place. Since the scientists have the knowledge on the total number the place can comprise naturally, they are able to transfer the animals, giving them space and adequate food for survival.
- Maintaining the health of the animals. The mammals bred in captivity are well taken care of. Their health is closely monitored by the veterinaries (Higham & Lück, 2008). They are immunized against disease and are also dewormed. These animals’ health is maintained and thus they are able to have very viable offspring. The risk of the animals dying from disease is minimized. Even after they are released to the wild, they are able to resist diseases having been immunized (Mau, 2004).
- Protection from predators. Predation is a key factor threatening the lives of the animals. Endangered species are provided with a place to hide from their predators and thus they are given a chance to breed well and multiply without being killed. The poachers are also a threat to endangered species. Captive breeding ensures that the population of animals increases to the number that even after being predated it will still have the chance to multiply and maintain a good number that cannot be eliminated completely (Olney, Mace, & Feistner, 1994).
- Captive breeding produces viable and strong offspring. The mates that are bred are first assessed to produce an offspring which is strong and able to survive the harsh wild environment. They produce young ones that are well adapted and with high immunity to diseases found in the wild environment that they are later taken to. These have contributed to long life of animals (Kleiman, Thompson, & Baer, 2010).
Captive breeding needs to do research on the following areas that have been a challenge, Behavior change and adaptation. Since most of the animals bred in captivity end up dying after they are released to the wild environment they should be trained to survive in their new homes. Those that hunt for survival should be trained to hunt when they are young. The way the animals from the wild behave should also impact on the animals at the zoos and other places. They should be trained to be able to adapt to their new environment to avoid death.
Conducting a research on post reintroduction of the animals to the wild will help to understand if the animals have the necessary skills to adapt to their new environment (Bertorelle, 2009). The close monitoring of the animals after they have been released will enable to know how the animals are adapting. Those that show signs of bad adaptation to the new environment should be taken back and trained. It will help reduce the deaths of the animals.
Captive breeding is essential in situations where the population of a given species is dangerously dropping. In some situations, the technique has been applied to some diminishing populations but there still exists some environmental conditions that exist which can support their existence. Captive breeding, on the other hand, has provided essential solutions to instances where poor quality breed exists. The solution allows maintaining certain species despite changing habitat factors. In situations where a certain breed species is trapped in a fragmented environment, captive breeding can easily aid in expanding the population to other regions where these conditions are leveled. Lastly, while using captive breeding, it is easier for researchers to learn and understand the characteristics and habitat requirements of certain species. It is easier than learning these characteristics in a wild environment.
In conclusion, captive breeding has greatly helped to protect our animals, especially the endangered species; it is indeed the effort that should surely be embraced to protect our animals.
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Bertorelle, G. (2009). Population genetics for animal conservation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Higham, J. E. S., & Lück, M. (2008). Marine wildlife and tourism management: Insights from the natural and social sciences. Wallingford, UK: CABI Pub.
Kleiman, D. G., Thompson, K. V., & Baer, C. K. (Eds.) (2010). Wild mammals in captivity: Principles and techniques for zoo management. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Mau, T. L. (2004). Investigations of the role of lipids in marine mammal diets, health and ecology (Doctoral dissertation). Fairbanks, AK.
Olney, P. J. S., Mace, G. M., & Feistner, A. (1994). Creative conservation: Interactive management of wild and captive animals. London: Chapman & Hall.
Woodruff, J. A. (2011). Fitness consequences of group living: Investigating hormones and behavior in the colonial tuco-tuco Ctenomys sociabilis (Doctoral dissertation). University of California, Berkeley, CA.