• 1. Have students research captive breeding programs and species-survival plans.
    Have small groups use the Smithsonian and Association of Zoos and Aquarium websites to research and answer the following questions:

    • What is a captive-breeding program, and what are the goals of this type of program? (Captive breeding programs breed endangered species in zoos and other facilities to build a healthy population of the animals and, sometimes, to reintroduce endangered species back into the wild.)
    • What is a species-survival plan, and what are the goals of this type of plan? (Species-survival plans coordinate with zoos around the world to bring species together for breeding that ensures genetic diversity.)
    • How can captive-breeding programs and species-survival plans contribute to biodiversity and the health of ecosystems? (They ensure large, healthy, and genetically diverse populations that otherwise would not exist.)

     

    2. Have students list positive and negative aspects of each in a worksheet.
    Explain to students that the use of captive breeding programs and species-survival plans is controversial and they will explore both sides of the issue. Distribute the Venn Diagram worksheet and ask students to list pros, cons, and specific examples of each as they explore the following questions:

    • What are some difficulties with captive breeding?
    • What are the arguments against captive breeding programs?
    • In what situations are artificial habitats beneficial?
    • In what situations might they be harmful?

     

    3. Discuss students’ findings as a class.
    Have a whole-class discussion about students’ findings. Ask: What is your opinion about whether these programs and plans are good or bad? Do the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice versa?

    Informal Assessment

    Have students summarize both scientific and moral arguments on the topic of captive breeding.

    Extending the Learning

    Have students research and report on the genetic and behavioral difficulties that zoos often face when trying to breed animals in captivity. Students can explore these questions: Why do zoos often transport their animals to other zoos that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away in order to breed? Why might two healthy animals of opposite sexes fail to reproduce?

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • explain how captive-breeding programs and species-survival plans contribute to biodiversity and the health of ecosystems
    • list the positive and negative aspects of each

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Discussions
    • Research

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:


    National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 14:  How human actions modify the physical environment

    National Science Education Standards

  • What You’ll Need

    Materials You Provide

    • Pencils
    • Pens

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Required
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per small group

    Physical Space

    • Classroom

    Grouping

    • Small-group instruction
  • Background Information

    Captive-breeding programs breed endangered species in zoos and other facilities to build a healthy population of the animals. Species-survival plans coordinate with zoos around the world to bring species together for breeding that ensures genetic diversity.


    Prior Knowledge

    • None

    Vocabulary

    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    biodiversity Noun

    all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity
    breed Verb

    to produce offspring.

    captive-breeding program Noun

    plans, research, and work done by an organization, such as a zoo, to control reproduction of rare species in that organization's facilities (not in the wild).

    ecosystem Noun

    community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem
    genetic diversity Noun

    difference or variety of units of inheritance (genes) in a species.

    species-survival plan Noun

    wildlife management and conservation program run by zoos and aquariums.

    For Further Exploration

    Websites