4.2 Conservation

Conservation is a key role of the modern zoo, and should influence every aspect of work in the zoo. According to the widely endorsed World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy (2015), WAZA defines conservation as ‘Securing populations of species in natural habitats for the long term.’ Zoos can contribute to conservation in a number of ways, and increasingly conservation efforts are a collaboration between zoos and other stakeholders, working together under the One Plan. Zoos can contribute to conservation directly or indirectly, and ways to contribute may include financial, material, or in-kind contributions to in situ conservation work; ex situ breeding and population management; in situ and/or ex situ research; education to raise awareness of conservation issues; and advocacy work. For zookeepers, it is important to understand how conservation underpins the work they do, and to be able to communicate that knowledge to zoo visitors. Zookeepers working at higher levels may also be able to contribute more directly to conservation, e.g. by participating in research, coordinating an ex situ breeding programme, or spending time supporting in situ projects. This topic has five competencies:

  • Conservation Role of Zoos: zookeepers can describe the conservation role of zoos and how keepers can contribute to conservation through their roles (including the One Plan approach).
  • Threats to Biodiversity: zookeepers can explain the concept of biodiversity, describe the major threats to biodiversity and explain the strategies used by zoos and other conservation organisations to combat them.
  • IUCN Redlisting: zookeepers can describe the redlisting process and demonstrate their understanding of how it applies to in situ and ex situ conservation.
  • Translocations and Reintroduction: zookeepers can describe how reintroduction and translocation can be part of a wider conservation strategy and how keepers can contribute to this.
  • Population Management Programmes: zookeepers can describe how breeding programmes can contribute to conservation and demonstrate understanding of how breeding programmes work at regional and global level, including demonstrating understanding of the role of EAZA and different population management structures.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
4.2.1 Conservation Role of Zoos Define the in situ and ex situ conservation role of the zoo by describing conservation projects their institution contributes to, including collaborative campaigns (e.g. EAZA conservation campaigns) Describe how their institution contributes to conservation projects
Describe a range of ways in which zoos can contribute to conservation, including ways in which zookeepers can contribute
Design methods by which zoos can make a direct contribution to conservation
Collaborate with appropriate stakeholders in conservation projects
4.2.2 Threats to Biodiversity Define the term ‘biodiversity’ and give examples of species threatened by the causes of biodiversity loss Connect the conservation work carried out by their institution with threats to biodiversity
Explain how this conservation work reduces or resolves threats to biodiversity
Describe the conservation work done in their institution to illustrate the threats to global biodiversity
Link their knowledge of threats to biodiversity to the role of zoos in conservation
4.2.3 IUCN Redlisting Name the different IUCN Red List categories
Identify which IUCN Red List categories are regarded as ‘Threatened’
Recall the IUCN Red List category of species they work with frequently
Describe the reasons why species may be assessed as Threatened, including but not limited to: limited, reducing, and/or fragmented habitats population declines; small and/or declining populations; high probability of extinction within a set time period
Distinguish between IUCN global Redlisting and other methods of redlisting (e.g. regional or national)
Explain how the IUCN Red List can be a practical tool for in situ and ex situ conservation work
Describe how IUCN Redlisting can be applied to internal collection planning
4.2.4 Translocations and Reintroduction Describe the concept of conservation translocations, including the reintroduction of individuals bred ex situ Describe how zoos can be involved in conservation translocations, identifying where keepers can play an active role
(If applicable) relate this knowledge to any translocations their institution participates in
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of translocations and reintroductions that have occurred
(If applicable) collaborate with co-workers or external stakeholders to participate in conservation translocations
4.2.5 Population Management Programmes Briefly describe the reasons why zoos participate in breeding programmes
Briefly describe how programmes are managed at a European (regional) level
Identify the role(s) of EAZA in ex situ population management and describe the key concepts of an EAZA Ex situ Programme
Explain how different EAZA structures, including but not limited to EEPs, Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs), the EAZA EEP Committee, and the European Population Management Advisory Group (EPMAG) contribute to running successful population management programmes
Relate this knowledge to other population management programme structures in place around the world (e.g. SSPs for AZA, ISBs for WAZA)
Distinguish between programmes for population maintenance and ex situ population management to support in situ conservation, e.g. through translocation
Compile information about individuals in their collection and share it with relevant co-workers or programme co-ordinators or TAG chairs.
(If applicable) collaborate with colleagues from EAZA to manage an EEP


  • EU Zoos Directive Good Practices Document (chapter 2.2) – European Commission
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (incl. guidance documents listed under ‘Resources’) – IUCN
  • WAZA Conservation Strategy: Committing to Conservation – WAZA
  • EAZA Conservation Standards – EAZA
  • EAZA Guidelines on the definition of a direct contribution to conservation – EAZA
  • IUCN Species Survival Commission Guidelines on the Use of Ex Situ Management for Species Conservation – IUCN
  • IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations – IUCN

Paths to fulfilment

Last updated: 14/12/2017