Our founder, Gerald Durrell, held the pioneering belief that zoos should primarily act as reserves and regenerators of endangered species. So while it’s still important we provide a fun and engaging day out for families, over the years Jersey Zoo has focused as much as possible on conservation.
Today, the overarching role of our animal collection in Jersey and overseas – our ‘ark’, as Gerald would have it – is conservation. We manage breeding programmes for release back to the wild, develop the skills and tools to conserve species in the wild, train others in animal husbandry and conservation practice, and communicate important messages to our visitors.
We rigorously and regularly assess our animal collection, assigning each animal in our collection to one of four roles: conservation, research and training, education, or visitor experience. By 2020, we aim to have 90% of the species at Jersey Zoo contributing to conservation, training and research, or education.
The role of a species may shift during its time within the collection in response to a changing situation in the wild; a new approach to the management of the captive population; evolving goals for the species; or new knowledge about the status of and threats to the species in the wild.
For example, the Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat was originally brought into the collection for conservation purposes, but surveys published in 2006 showed that the wild population was much larger than previously thought, so there was less need for our breeding programme. Great news for this species, which now plays an important education role as part of our Kirindy Forest exhibit.
Categorising a species is not always straightforward, so our experts meet once a year to re-evaluate the role of every animal in the zoo. We know animals thrive in their natural habitats, and we’re determined to stay true to Gerald's vision.
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