captive breeding

Breeding Programs

Captive breeding provides a means for conserving species that may not survive in the wild.

The goal of most captive breeding programs for endangered species is to establish captive populations that are large enough to be stable and healthy. This means ensuring that reproduction is successful, protecting the population against diseases, and preserving the gene pool to avoid the problems of inbreeding (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 1).

A goal of some captive breeding programs may also to bring animals back to the wild (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 2). A studbook is a computerized database of all animals in the captive breeding programs, and includes information on dates of births and deaths, gender, parentage, locations, population size, and degree of inbreeding (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 3).

Based on the studbook, the coordinator makes recommendations about which animals should breed, how often, and with whom. Animals may be shipped to different zoos or breeding programs for the best pairings (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 4).

Population Viability

    Extinction probabilities are usually calculated using computers in a process called Population Viability Analysis (PVA). Data on life-history, ecology, environmental variation, and the effects of various types of threats (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 1).

  • The premier international conservation agency, previously called the IUCN also uses the concept of population viability, among other things, to help classify species according to their degree of endangerment and place them on the Red List (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 2).

  • Critically Endangered Species that shows a probability of extinction in the wild is at least 50% within 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer (up to a max of 100 years) (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 3).

  • Endangered Species showing the probability of extinction in the wild is at least 20% within 20 years or five generations, whichever is the longer (up to a max of 100 years) (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 4).

  • Vulnerable Species One where a quantitative analysis showing the probability of extinction in the wild is at least 10% within 100 years (Smithsonian National Zoological Park 5).

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The five recognized species of kiwis are all flightless, nocturnal, burrowing birds that are unique to New Zealand.(Kiwi." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation1 ) North Island brown kiwis are listed as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.(Kiwi." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation2 )

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Steller Sea Lion

The current population of Steller sea lions is about 40,000, with about 500 living in California. However, there is great concern about this population, which has dropped by 80% in the last 30 years.("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus 1). In 1997, the stock of Alaska was listed as endangered and the eastern stock of the Continental United States and Canada was listed as threatened. ("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus 2).

Adult females, also known as cows, stay with their pups for a few days after birth before beginning a regular routine of alternating foraging trips at sea with nursing their pups on land.("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus 3.) Female Steller sea lions use smell and distinct sounds to recognize and create strong social bonds with their newborn pups.("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus4.) Pups have a dark brown to black "lanugo"coat until 4 to 6 months old, when they go to a lighter brown. ("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus5 ). By the end of their second year, pups are on the same color as adults. ("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus 6.) Females usually mate again with males within 2 weeks after giving birth. Males can live to be up to 20 years old, while females can live to be 30 ("Steller Sea Lion Eumetopias Jubatus 7).

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This lifespan may be shortly diminished, as the platypuses biggest threats are snakes, goannas, rats and foxes. Another big threat to the platypus is man, waterways are pollution or land clearing(National Geographic 1). The platypus is among nature's most unlikely animals (National Geographic 2). the first scientists to examine a platypus believed they were the victims of a hoax(National Geographic 3). The animal is best described as a hodgepodge of more familiar species: the duck (bill and webbed feet), beaver (tail), and otter (body and fur). Males are also venomous. They have sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet and can use them to deliver a strong toxic blow to any foe(National Geographic4).

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The platypusand echidas are two species are the only known surviving monotremes in the world. Monotreme, means “single opening,” referring to the fact that these mammals have only one opening(unique australian animals 1.) Whereas other mammals have three openings, monotremes have one cloaca, which is used in the urinary, defecatory, and reproductive systems (unique australian animals 2). monotremes are the only mammals who lay eggs, rather than give live birth. it is very rare to have them mate in zoos or breeding programs so when one gives birth it is amazing(unique australian animals 3).

Works Cited

ADMISSION IS FREE." Welcome to the National Zoo| FONZ Website. N.p., 19 Mar. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.

Kiwi." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.

Platypus." National Geographic. N.p., Spring 1996. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.

Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias Jubatus) - Office of Protected Resources - NOAA Fisheries." Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias Jubatus) - Office of Protected Resources - NOAA Fisheries. N.p., 18 June 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.

"Unique Australian Animals." Unique Australian Animals. N.p., 20 Dec. 2006. Web. 15 Oct. 2012.