Scientific study

Zoos are often called "living laboratories"; this term reinforces the fact that animal observations and experiments in captivity can be very valuable. In fact, most of our knowledge of mammals has come from captive studies. For instance, black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes), extinct in the wild, are being re-introduced through artificial insemination. The oryx have also recently been poached to near extinction again and their numbers are just starting to increase in the wild. Also, it is often more practical, easier to control external factors, and more scientifically useful to study mammals in captivity. In an effort to encourage scientific study in zoological parks and provide funding for these programs, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and Disney's Animal Kingdom have established the Conservation Endowment Fund. It pays for many conservation and research studies in captivity and in the wild each year. The Zoological Society of London in the United Kingdom has supported research since the late nineteenth century.

Rehabilitation pools are built to temporarily house ill or injured marine animals, such as this killer whale, for treatment. The intent is to return the animals to the wild once they have recovered. (Photo by © Steve Starr/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)
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