Captive Breeding

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Captive breeding is the process of breeding animals in human controlled environments with restricted settings, such as wildlife reserves, zoos and other conservation facilities; sometimes the process is construed to include release of individual organisms to the wild, when there is sufficient natural habitat to support new individuals or when the threat to the species in the wild is lessened. Captive breeding has been used with success for some species for some time, with probably the oldest known instances of captive breeding being attributed to menageries of European and Asian rulers, a case in point being the Pere David's Deer. The idea was popularized among modern conservationists independently by Peter Scott and Gerald Durrell in the 1950s and 1960s, founders of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Jersey Zoo - who demonstrated success with a wide variety of life forms in the 1970s ranging from birds (e.g. Pink Pigeon), mammals (e.g. Pygmy Hog), reptiles (e.g. Round Island Boa) and amphibians (e.g. Poison arrow frogs). Their ideas were independently validated by the success of Operation Oryx (under the auspices of the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society), which captive bred the Arabian Oryx starting in 1963 for eventual reintroduction to the wild. The Przewalski's horse has recently been re-introduced to the wild in Mongolia, its native habitat. Such techniques are usually difficult to implement for highly mobile species like some migratory birds (e.g. cranes) and fishes (e.g. Hilsa). If the captive breeding population is too small, inbreeding may occur due to reduced gene pool, which may lead to the population lacking immunity to diseases and other problems. Over sufficient number of generations, inbred populations can regain "normal" genetic diversity. Another challenge with captive breeding is the habitat loss that occurs while they are in captivity (though it is occurring even before they are captured). This may make release of the species unviable if there is no habitat left to support larger populations. The Sumatran Rhino will not survive purely in captivity and loss of habitat is a major factor in their extinction. If their habitat disappears, captive populations as well as wild ones will disappear along with it. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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