Ecological ethics in captivity

Balancing values and responsibilities in zoo and aquarium research under rapid global change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ethical obligations to animals in conservation research and management are manifold and often conflicting. Animal welfare concerns often clash with the ethical imperative to understand and conserve a population or ecosystem through research and management intervention. The accelerating pace and impact of global environmental change, especially climate change, complicates our understanding of these obligations. One example is the blurring of the distinction between ex situ (zoo- and aquarium-based) conservation and in situ (field-based) approaches as zoos and aquariums become more active in field conservation work and as researchers and managers consider more intensive interventions in wild populations and ecosystems to meet key conservation goals. These shifts, in turn, have consequences for our traditional understanding of the ethics of wildlife research and management, including our relative weighting of animal welfare and conservation commitments across rapidly evolving ex situ and in situ contexts. Although this changing landscape in many ways supports the increased use of captive wildlife in conservation-relevant research, it raises significant ethical concerns about human intervention in populations and ecosystems, including the proper role of zoos and aquariums as centers for animal research and conservation in the coming decades. Working through these concerns requires a pragmatic approach to ethical analysis, one that is able to make trade-offs among the many goods at stake (e.g., animal welfare, species viability, and ecological integrity) as we strive to protect species from further decline and extinction in this century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalILAR Journal
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Fingerprint

Animal Welfare
ethics
global change
zoos
aquariums
Ethics
Ecosystem
Conservation
animal welfare
Animals
Ethical Analysis
Research
Population
Research Ethics
ecosystems
Ecosystems
Climate Change
animal research
captive animals
wildlife management

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Climate change
  • Conservation ethics
  • Ex situ conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

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