A Book for All Zoos


Wild Mammals in Captivity. Principles and Techniques for Zoo Management . 2nd edition . Kleiman , D. G. , K. V. Thompson , and C. Kirk Baer , editors. 2010. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, U.S.A. 548 pp. $85 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-226-44009-5.

For those of us interested in captive animal management practices or the effect of zoos and aquariums on current conservation efforts, this volume is essential. There has never been a greater need for species-based conservation action. Nearly one-quarter of the world's mammal species are threatened with extinction by climate change and rapidly increasing human pressures. Zoos and aquariums are well positioned to participate in animal conservation and recovery programs. The zoo community works well together and contributes substantially to the maintenance of threatened species through increasingly successful captive breeding and management programs. Zoos and aquariums also raise public awareness about the need for conservation through continually evolving exhibit design. Since 1991, members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have contributed nearly $US5.0 million to 280 conservation projects worldwide. There has been an increased emphasis on raising money to support in situ conservation and providing equipment, training, and other forms of capacity-building skills (e.g., educational outreach and fund raising in support of field work). The Association of Zoos and Aquariums estimates that in the United States over 143 million people visit zoos and aquariums annually. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums estimates that over 600 million people visit zoos annually worldwide. This presents an enormous opportunity to raise public awareness about critical losses of biological diversity, influence public behavior to lessen the human footprint, tell the story about how zoos and aquariums are responding to the species loss, and inspire the public to contribute monetarily to conservation activities.

The first edition of Wild Mammals in Captivity, published in 1996, summarized for the first time the modern means and methods for the exhibition and management of mammals in a zoo environment. The second edition is a thorough and thoughtful update of the original. Like the first edition, the second is not a recipe for the management of mammals; rather, it is a primer that explains basic principles and provides overviews of a broad range of topics relevant to the care of mammals in captivity. In the new edition, the editors draw on their own extensive expertise and that of 78 professionals in the field. Over 75% of the chapters and appendixes contain substantially new content, and other chapters present material with intriguing new insights. This volume is less theoretical and more management oriented than the previous edition. The contributing authors represent a much broader representation of the international zoo community compared with the 1996 edition. Although the second edition, like its predecessor, is primarily intended for the zoo and aquarium community, conservation professionals will find much of the book relevant to their work as well.

As in the previous edition, the second is divided into seven parts—Ethics and Animal Welfare, Basic Mammal Management, Nutrition, Exhibitry, Conservation and Research, Behavior, Reproduction—and is followed by four appendixes.

Part 5, Conservation and Research, will be of particular interest to conservation professionals. Research in zoos and aquariums has been conducted for many years and is well respected. The participation of zoos and aquariums in conservation is a much more recent development. This section provides detailed reviews of the demographic and genetic management of captive mammal populations; regional collection planning; methods for the selection of species for ex situ conservation efforts; management of surplus animals, which can be the unfortunate result of successful captive breeding programs; role of captive breeding in reintroduction programs; and research trends and the role of zoos in contributing to in situ conservation.

Wild Mammals in Captivity provides a valuable summary and comprehensive description of current zoo practices. By drawing on the writings of many different authors, the book is especially successful at offering a variety of perspectives. Sadly, the senior editor, Devra Kleiman, passed away just before publication. Dedicated to her memory, the book memorializes her important contributions to the fields of animal behavior and conservation. The zoo and conservation communities owe a tremendous debt to Kleiman and her coeditors for their efforts to assemble such a vast amount of theoretical and practical knowledge about mammals in captivity in a single volume.