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The role of zoos and aquariums in research into the effects of climate change on animal health



The role that the zoos and aquariums can play in the study into the effects of global climate change, particularly on animal health, is discussed and examples of how this could be achieved are presented. Animals in zoos and aquariums often live under environmentally controlled conditions and may not be subject to the effects of climate change or exposed to the increased numbers of parasites or pathogens that might conceivably be a product of climate change. However, climate-change effects have been reported in both humans and livestock and so it is likely that some animals in zoos and aquariums will also be affected. In 2004, there was a report of 118 transmissible diseases affecting animals in zoos and aquariums, and 29 (25%) of these can be identified as likely to be affected by climate change. Because it is possible to simulate different environmental conditions in zoos and aquariums, and many such institutions have valuable data on animal health that have been collected historically, they may be particularly appropriate places to carry out climate-change studies.