Endangered Species Handbook

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Video - Films

Zoos, Captive Breeding and Reintroductions

Note:  The title is followed by the length, producer, distributor (if different from producer), and year film was made.  Unless otherwise noted, the videos listed below are VHS format.  Many are available in Beta, 16mm and other formats.  Some are on laser disks.
+ Indicates video sold or rented with teacher’s instruction guide.
"Another Ark." 30 minutes. Survival Anglia. 1992.
The reintroduction of long‑extinct species into Israel is the subject of this interesting film, which shows many of the problems of reintroductions and how animals are kept in semi‑open enclosures for long periods of acclimatization.  A small herd of wild asses or Onagers are released into the desert, and they were found to be adapting successfully.  One animal had badly broken its foreleg and was limping painfully; the wildlife authorities made a cruel decision in leaving it without treatment.
"Ark on the Move." 30‑minute programs. Series with Gerald Durrell; Prime Time Entertainment. 1981.
Shown on the Discovery Channel, these fascinating films include such titles as "Return to the Wild," "Leaving the Ark," "Operation Round Island" and "Island in Distress."  They focus on the work of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust of the UK in captive breeding and in research on the highly endangered species of the Mascarene Islands (including Mauritius, the home of the Dodo), Madagascar, and other areas.  Several of the captive‑breeding projects have resulted in reintroductions to the wild.  Views of these species' highly endangered environments highlight the discussion of the approach of this organization to captive breeding in which the species is reintroduced as soon as possible and much of the conservation and breeding are done in the country of origin.
"The Invisible Zoo." 30 minutes. Profiles of Nature. KEG Productions. 1993.
The Toronto Zoo's Gorillas are used as an example of what changes zoos are undergoing.  Captive breeding is now being done with the goal of reintroduction, and in this film we follow zoo scientists to Cameroon where habitat is evaluated for reintroduction, and much forest destruction is filmed.
"Memories from Eden." 57 minutes. NOVA (WGBH). Time‑Life Films. 1977.
This film examines zoos and their role as educators and captive breeders, giving a balanced view of both critics and proponents.  Various zoos are toured, and captive‑breeding methods for endangered species are discussed.
See "Sex and the Single Rhino," another NOVA film giving an updated view on the debate over removing rare species for zoo breeding .
"Serving Time." 60 minutes. Nature of Things. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1987.
The title of this fascinating view of zoos is an indication of the realistic approach that was taken, examining the shortcomings of zoos as conservators of wildlife and the extreme stress captivity places on wild animals, especially large predators.  The narrative clearly states that confinement for animals in zoos is, in fact, like a criminal sentence for which no crime was committed.  Some of the more positive aspects of zoos and the better ones, such as the Bronx Zoo in New York, give the film objectivity.  This film is recommended.
"Sex and the Single Rhino." 60 minutes. NOVA (WGBH). PBS. 1993.
This film is one of the least bland and most probing of the growing number of documentaries about saving endangered species through captive breeding. Although focused on the Sumatran and Javan Rhinos, among the world's most endangered species, other rarities, such as Cheetahs and Golden‑lion Tamarins, are also seen.  The debate about whether species should be left in the wild, even when numbers are low, or taken into captivity is a focus. The Sumatran has had high mortality in capture and captivity.  Strong disagreements arose between biologists studying and protecting the Sumatran Rhinos in one of their only remaining habitats (a national park) and American zoo representatives, who came to Indonesia to capture a relatively large number of these rhinos for captive breeding in spite of the dismal record for their survival and breeding in captivity.  This confrontation ended with zoos obtaining several rhinos for United States zoos, apparently as a result of influence by zoo and IUCN personnel with high government officials.

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