Ex-situ conservation means ‘off-site conservation’. It is the process of protecting an endangered species of plant or animal by removing part of the population from a threatened habitat and placing it in a new location and under the care of humans.
Zoos SA is a conservation organisation with a reputation for strong conservation programmes. As the international symbol for the conservation movement for over 30 years, the Giant Panda is a logical species for us to work with.
There are currently over 200 Giant Pandas in captivity - the majority of these are in China, with small populations in zoos around the world, including Adelaide Zoo. Breeding Giant Pandas in captivity increases population numbers and also ensures genetic diversity. It also helps safeguard the species from unpredictable events such as fire, disease or natural disaster that can affect the primary captive populations in China.
In addition, we are also raising awareness about the plight of all endangered species and making a real difference in the protection of the Giant Panda and the multitude of amazing species that share its habitat.
Our Giant Pandas are on a research loan from China. It is also important to understand what they need to survive. Conservation depends on knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines. It is hard to study wild pandas, so we can learn more about them by studying captive pandas. For instance, recent studies have shown that the popular notion that Giant Pandas are poor breeders is wrong. Years of captive-breeding failures were largely the result of human mismanagement.
The next major step in achieving conservation is releasing captive-bred pandas to the wild.