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Keywords:

  • applied ethics;
  • botanical;
  • conservation;
  • curation of living collections;
  • development;
  • integrated zoo horticulture;
  • plant use;
  • strategic management;
  • zoological garden

The modern zoo is one in a continual state of renewal, new developments being undertaken on a frequent basis to improve a site to benefit the many stakeholders, including animals, staff and visitors, and to maintain their continued support. Business development is also required to optimize the potential of a site to raise a surplus of cash to undertake important mission work including conservation. However, business growth to facilitate mission work presents an interesting dichotomy, one based around compromise borne from the need to undertake development to meet and exceed stringent welfare requirements and encourage visitors into a competitive market place for good days out. The potential ‘cost’ of the transaction business versus mission falls within the realm of managing and planning the zoo site itself, a cost that can impact beyond the borders of the site itself to include populations of flora and fauna that are affected by the management decisions made on site. These include populations of native species and their habitat but can also be considered to include wider environmental costs associated with trading where resources are brought in and have the potential to impact upon global habitats and threatened populations of species beyond the purely local scale. This can be a source of tension or conflict, a prerequisite to ethics. This paper reviews the conflict and the ethical choices that arise from plant procurement and use in zoos. It is concerned with providing (1) a framework based on optimizing potential and resolving conflict and (2) the provision of guidance to address issues of responsible personal conduct of those who are accountable for undertaking such services in zoos.