Penguin Genetics

Essay by ChristinaVassiliou November 2006

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1. Introduction

Contrary to the general 'enslavement' belief, captive breeding is a means to species conservation that are unable to survive in the wild. The zoos' contribution to the preservation of species has been significant and outstanding examples of saving from extinction have been species like Guam rails, a small flightless bird, black footed ferrets, California condors, Przewalski's horses and others. Even though other reasons such as conservation education, exhibit of interesting species, and research exist other than saving from extinction, captive breeding aims to maintain a genetically healthy and adequate species population as to avoid inbreeding. (Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Conservation and Science, Captive Breeding). The former are achieved through healthy and adequate living limit, sufficient reproduction to ensure species preservation and succession of genetic material, protection against diseases and take precautions against inbreeding. Some captive breeding programs do not intend to preserve but rather to prepare species for the establishment back in the wild.

Federations against the extinction of species and with a view to establishing a consensus for the protection and respect of species and wild life are being formed to organise zoos and aquarium and provide the guidelines for manners of conduct. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is a multinational organism that is undertaking educational and informational conferences for the body members which also include affiliate organizations, veterinarians and educators. Conferences are held every four years and have been taking place in USA, Europe, Asia and Australia. Proceedings of the organization are published along with a magazine, an annual directory fact sheets and strategic or policy documents (, About WAZA).

The aim of the present paper is to elaborate on the role the captive breeding in managing the genetics of captive population with the aid of a specific species, the African black-footed penguin.