Reintroducing Animals To The Wild
Reintroduction plans are not straight forward since an animal will never have had to hunt and kill its own food. Learning survival skills is obviously essential. There are of course negatives to keeping wild animals in captivity since we will never be able to recreate their natural environment perfectly. In the wild, species live as part of a social organisation, some more than others. For example chimps learn from their elders how to care for their young. They can also be vulnerable to attack when as an outsider they try to join existing social groups. It is possible though, as in the classic tale of Christian, the lion cub, born of captive parents and sold in Harrods in 1969, who was successfully reintroduced to the wild in Kenya and became the head of his own pride.
Yet if a zoo is to be successful in breeding animals, they must feel at home and happy. If they do not, they will not become pregnant. This is especially the case with very sensitive creatures such as pandas which rarely give birth in zoos. Pandas cannot revive a depleted population very quickly as they are notoriously poor breeders, only having one young at a time, which is why their small population is of such concern. The males for some reason are not very good at breeding in captivity and the females are only fertile for 24-36 hours each spring so there is only a small window of opportunity.