What is the Species Survival Plan, and Why Is It Harmful for Elephants?
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM IDA In Defense of Animals
November 2020

Elephant Species Survival Programs are designed to benefit zoos, not the elephants they purport to help. Elephants suffer in zoos, while genetically-diverse captive elephant populations in North America do nothing to improve the lot of wild elephants. It’s time for zoos to stop repeating the misleading notions that Species Survival Plans represent and stop breeding captive elephants for good.

A more apt name would be Species Survival Within Zoos Plans.

zoo elephants

The Species Survival Plan® is a breeding program managed cooperatively by zoos and institutions that are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Launched in 1981, the program enables coordination between different zoos and aquariums to manage populations of captive animals and proliferate them in captivity. Species Survival Plans dictate the activities of individual zoos relating to breeding, including artificial insemination. There are nearly 500 active Species Survival Plans functioning around the world.

Species Survival Plans are managed by Taxon Advisory Groups, which coordinate the trading of living animals or their reproductive materials between facilities, and shares information about captive populations in order to maintain genetic diversity.

Captive elephants are a major focus of Species Survival Plans. Currently, there are hundreds of elephants being managed by these plans in zoos around the world. Contrary to how it sounds, however, Species Survival Plans do not do anything for wild elephants — and they end up hurting the elephants who are held captive. A more apt name would be Species Survival Within Zoos Plans.



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