Zoos may be places where you can catch a glimpse of your favorite animal on a day out, but increasingly, they play an even more important role: as conservation institutions

Today, more than 200 zoos and aquariums around the world have breeding programs or engage in conservation research to help save endangered species from extinction. Staff scientists, conservationists, and zookeepers closely track the health and genetic diversity of animals and plants in their care, preparing them for the day when they can be released back into the wild. 

Many zoos coordinate their efforts, transferring breeding animals between zoos to ensure the greatest genetic diversity to maximize species health. These breeding programs have helped save several species from extinction, including the golden lion tamarin, the black-footed ferret, and the scimitar-horned oryx.