The rapid declines and extinctions of our planet's rich biodiversity in recent years has led organisations throughout the world to take action. Our zoos and aquariums have become part of this global movement and are fast becoming a powerful force for conservation. Our members work as part of a global conservation network guided by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation strategy and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
We believe that the best place to conserve wildlife is in the wild and we support our members in their efforts to carry out and support field conservation work both at home and overseas. Many of our zoos and aquariums have charitable status and all our members are involved in conservation projects either directly or by partnering with conservation charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
As a community we make a significant contribution to conservation. Our members support more than 500 field conservation projects, contributing over £14 million per year. They supply skills, staff and equipment for wildlife conservation, and essential materials for education and awareness programmes in developing countries. They also play an important role in conservation awareness-raising in the UK, support conservation campaigns and facilitate the career development of young conservationists.
One plan approach
Zoos and aquariums take a one plan approach to conservation. Whilst traditionally conservation programmes were split into field conservation where work was carried out to conserve animals in their natural habitat (in-situ), and conservation breeding which primarily focuses on breeding animals within zoos and aquariums (ex-situ), today we talk about conservation as a whole, combining in-situ and ex-situ techniques in an integrated approach.
Ultimately, much of our knowledge and expertise that can be lent to field conservation programmes has been gained through the management of animals in zoos and aquariums. The science behind supporting animal populations in the wild has evolved through cooperative zoo and aquarium breeding programmes, increasing our knowledge of their health and welfare needs.