Zoos prefer cute animals to less attractive species

Last Updated: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 17:50

London: Big, intelligent and good-looking animals are more likely to be found in zoos than other less attractive species, irrespective of conservation needs, a new research has found.
While the red panda, big cats, elephants and giraffes are found in most zoos, there`s no place for the pika, the golden mole or the rat kangaroo, researchers found.

Scientists have warned that the focus on attractive species that appeal to paying visitors could have detrimental effects on conservation, with the mammal rated the least attractive, the endangered marsupial mole, not found in any zoo, `The Independent` reported.

"Selection of species into world zoos is determined by decisions made by humans, and intelligent and beautiful animals seem to be favoured," the researchers said.

More than seven million animals are kept in 872 zoos and aquariums worldwide. Zoologists from Prague`s Charles University investigated the range of mammals kept and which were left out.

Out of 5,334 mammalian species, only 1,048 of them, or 16 per cent, were found in the world zoo collection. The team used data on brain size and attractiveness to humans to see why some species were being left out in the cold.

The researchers rated the 123 mammal families for attractiveness, with the red panda, big cats, giraffes, elephants and bears coming out on top.

However, researchers warn that the proportion of threatened species is increasing rapidly, leaving only few species safe from a possible extinction.

"There are many small or unattractive species that are significant and thus key for biodiversity preservation. With little or no support received, these species could be lost for ever," researchers said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 17:50

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