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EAZA Collection Planning

The animals are of course the absolute key factor in each zoo or aquarium. Modern and well-managed zoos and aquariums select the species which they keep very carefully and for specific reasons. EAZA member institutions have established Taxon Advisory Groups for all the different species of animals that are kept in zoos and aquariums. One of the main tasks of the TAGs is to develop Regional Collection Plans that describe which species are recommended to be kept, why, and how these species should be managed. The Regional Collection Plans also identify which species need to be managed in European Endangered Species Programmes and European Studbooks.


Regional Collection Plans

To meet their aims zoos and aquariums rely on the animal populations that they keep. Since they wish to refrain from bringing in animals from the wild, it is important that they maintain healthy and self-sustaining populations of animals. This means that zoos and aquariums need to have populations of many species that are large enough to prevent inbreeding, for instance.

On the other hand, resources are always at a premium. Space for keeping species and people who are able to professionally manage populations are limited. Therefore, EAZA member institutions make very careful choices about which species to keep and which ones not to keep.

Issues considered by TAGs in regional collection planning include:

How much space do we have?
The number of suitable enclosures that EAZA member institutions have will dictate the number of animals and species that can be kept successfully in the long term.

The status of the species in the wild
In case a species is threatened in the wild, and zoos and aquariums can make a contribution to its survival, they may choose to keep this species instead of a non-threatened species.

IUCN logoFor some species IUCN/SSC Specialist Groups have indicated that captive breeding is required to ensure its survival. In such cases, and when EAZA member institutions have the space and experience required, the TAG will make a strong recommendation to include the relevant species in the EAZA Regional Collection Plan.

The educational value of the species
In case a species has special features about which an interesting story can be told, the TAG may propose to keep this species instead of a less interesting species.

Husbandry expertise
Have zoos and aquariums successfully kept and bred a species? If not, they will first have to learn more about the species before they can consider keeping it. Sometimes the TAG may decide to work with a closely related, non-threatened species first, before it is decided to keep a threatened species.

What are other regions doing?
If a successful captive breeding programme is already functioning in another part of the world, and there is no need for expanding the population of that species, there is little point in EAZA member institutions keeping that species too. In this case they can use their own resources for another species.


Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)

All the above issues are taken into consideration. In the resulting Regional Collection Plan each TAG recommends which species EAZA member institutions should be keeping, how they should manage them (e.g. an EEP should be established for a species), if there is specific research that needs to be carried out to learn more about the species and so on. The Regional Collection Plan also identifies the species which should (preferably) not be kept.

For instance, leopard species that are of unknown origin, hybrids or subspecies for which EAZA does not have a breeding programme, will take up space that is much needed for those leopard subspecies for which EEP programmes have been established. EAZA member institutions are therefore urged to no longer breed with the non-recommended leopards to make space available to a recommended sub-species.

Regional Collection Plans are living documents that need to be updated every few years, as circumstances may change (e.g. the status of the species in the wild).



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