Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

75 percent of Spanish zoos at risk of exotic animals escaping

24.11.2010
Lions, bears, monkeys, crocodiles, parrots and iguanas may seem inoffensive at first glance when they're behind bars in zoos. But some exotic species can escape and become invasive species. This has been confirmed by a scientific team that has checked 1,568 animal houses in 63 Spanish zoos. Birds are the animals most likely to escape.

"As zoos house a large number of exotic (non-indigenous) species, they could become an entry channel for these species if they escape, with the potential environmental risk that this implies", María C. Fàbregas, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Ethology and Animal Welfare Unit of the Cardenal-Herrera University (UCH) in Valencia, tells SINC.

The study, which has been published in the journal Biological Invasions, reviewed the security of animal housing against creatures escaping, and 75% of the zoos studied were found to be problematic, while 14% of the animal housing was evaluated as "insecure" against the possibility of escape.

"Species that could pose a danger to public health are usually housed in secure accommodation, but those that could represent a danger to the environment if they escaped (invasive species) tend to be in insecure housing", points out Fàbregas. According to the research, birds are the group most likely to be in insecure housing.

Based on a report produced in 2003 by the Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs (MARM), the research team studied 30 animal houses in each of the 63 zoos. The MARM is currently completing the first inventory of zoos and aquaria in Spain.

"Of the 1,568 animal houses studied, 221 were insecure against the threat of the species housed in them escaping, 167 housed non-indigenous species (potentially dangerous to the environment), and of these 21 housed invasive species", the scientist explains.

The animals could escape from 71% of the insecure housing by getting through or over the physical barrier around their accommodation. The rest could get out "because the public could release them or remove them from their cages or tanks".

Zoos, sources of invasive species

"Invasive species are one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss, but they can also have negative effects on human health, agriculture and the economy. Controlling their entry routes is the most effective way of tackling this threat", the researcher says.

Although many "potentially" invasive species are "inoffensive to human beings", some – including pets such as the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta), green iguanas (Iguana iguana), parrots and parakeets – are "dangerous" to the environment if they escape.

The team says that zoos, already recognised as a source of invasive species, should adopt "all the measures available to them to prevent their animals from escaping". "Preventing non-indigenous species from entering the environment is the best way of tackling the problem of biological invasions", says Fàbregas.

The scientists believe that it is "of utmost importance" to alert zoos to the environmental danger of non-indigenous species "in order to prevent them from escaping". Zoos are also an important tool for educating the public.

The researchers also propose putting an emergency plan in place to deal with the accidental escape of animals, not just in the case of species that are dangerous to the public, but also for those that could harm the environment.

Among other measures, the scientists recommend not allowing animals to walk freely within the zoo grounds, and ensuring there is a physical barrier marking the zoo boundaries, and preventing individuals from escaping through drains, sewers or any other channels.

One measure that is already common in some zoos is for them to have their own waste water treatment system, particularly at parks with aquaria or those near the coast. The goal is to prevent pathogens and parasites from getting out, as well as "any other potentially dangerous biological material (seeds, larvae, fragments of aquatic plants, etc.)", says Fàbregas.

References:

Fàbregas, María C.; Guillén-Salazar, Federico; Garcés-Narro, Carlos. "The risk of zoological parks as potential pathways for the introduction of non-indigenous species" Biological Invasions 12(10): 3627-3636, octubre de 2010.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>