After reading the Sept. 13 Politics & the Nation article “Red wolves will still be protected — but more by zoos than in the wild,” I felt as if the world were upside down. Today’s zoos are operating on a business model that is forever dead — just like so many wild animals that the industry ignores (a study found that the conservation investment for North American zoos was less than 5 percent of their income). Keeping red wolves or any other animal in a zoo cage will not save the species. Captive breeding will sentence individual animals to life behind bars, but wild populations still struggle against human encroachment and a host of other manmade threats, including poison bait that kills indiscriminately, shooting from helicopters, the canned hunt lobby and trigger-happy ranchers who fire first and (don’t) ask questions later.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology concluded that unless wild animals are protected, captive breeding is futile. The lead researcher said that “without conservation in the wild there is no point in captive breeding.” In-situ conservation is what will save species.
Dianne O’Connor, Buffalo